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Recent Events
Graduate Research Assistantships Available Fall 2023 at UNM-ISNPS
Doctoral Graduation - Ragai Altamimi
UNM, Purdue work to develop autonomous control architecture for microreactors
First Year Progress Report for NASA Advanced Radiator Project
Physical Location:
Ferris Engineering Center
Room 1120

Mailing Address:
Institute for Space & Nuclear Power Studies
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Phone: 505.277.5442
Fax: 505.277.5433

Online: Contact Form

Our Mission: Empowering the Next Generation

Whether they are employed in space or on Earth, new uses for nuclear energy continue to emerge year upon year, promising exciting benefits to humankind for generations to come. The Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies (ISNPS) fosters innovations in energy development and improving the efficiency of current power sources for space exploration and terrestrial nuclear power to benefit society and mankind, said ISNPS's founding director, Distinguished and Regents' Professor Mohamed S. El-Genk. The UNM- ISNPS is at the forefront of the technological revolution in peaceful uses for nuclear power which will:

  • Create efficient, dependable nuclear reactors designed to power bases on the Moon and Mars, and extend our knowledge of deep space using unmanned spacecraft traveling to the farthest reaches of the solar system and beyond.
  • Build safe, cost-effective, and inherently save small modular reactors with fully passive operation for generating electricity and providing process heat to multitude of industrial uses and district heating for advanced bases, remote communities, island nations, and underdeveloped nations with no or limited access to electrical grid and where electricity is not yet universally available.
  • Apply modeling and simulation of complex systems, thermal-hydraulics and the neutronic design, safety analyses of nuclear reactor and power systems, with traditional and advanced static and dynamic energy conversion.
  • Investigate Cybersecurity of nuclear power plants and critical energy infrastructure, and options and technologies of advanced dry cooling for electrical power plants to save water consumption and reduce green gas emission.
  • Application of computational fluid dynamics (CFC) to energy systems and nuclear reactors for space and terrestrial applications, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation of radiation effects on materials.

ISNPS and its Founding Director, Mohamed S. El-Genk, are featured in
the Spring 2006 Issue of UNM Engineering Magazine.

Versatile Research Goals

"Fostering innovations in energy development and improving the efficiency of current power sources is one way to benefit society and mankind," says ISNPS Founding Director and Distinguished and Regents' Professor, Mohamed S. El-Genk.

Other ways in which UNM-ISNPS seeks to contribute to the scientific knowledge base include: the study of fluids transport through microchannels for nanotechnology applications, and cooling of high-power electronics through the use of boiling heat transfer and thermal management, and Molecular Dynamics simulations to investigate irradiation effects and radiation damage in materials.

"Molecular Dynamics simulations provide a good alternative for determining irradiation effects in materials and observing radiation damage cascades that cannot be captured with other computational models or experiments," saya PhD student Benjamin Cowen.

In addition, passive cooling using heat pipes, designing lightweight heat rejection radiators, and dynamic simulation of space power systems with either static energy conversion or turbo-machinery, are other major focus areas for UNM-ISNPS.

Nuclear power and thermal propulsion, however, remains a main focus of the Institute, developing the technology for reliable, safe, affordable, long-life, and lightweight power systems to support future space exploration missions and outposts.

Research teams at ISNPS-UNM have developed space reactor and power system designs that avoid single-point failures and provide a high degree of reliability. These designs are: the liquid metal-cooled Sectored Compact Reactor (SCoRe), the gas-cooled Submersion-Subcritical Safe Space reactor (S^4) and Pellet Bed Reactor (PeBR), designed to operate with multiple Closed Brayton Cycle (CBC) Engines; and the liquid metal heat pipe cooled Scalable AMTEC Integrated Reactor System (SAIRS). Redundancy is built into each reactor design to ensure continued operation of the power system for in excess of 10 years, operations safety, and longevity. These reactors are also designed to remain safe in case they are submerged in wet sand and flooded with seawater, following a launch abort accident.

"These innovative space reactor power systems are designed to be able to operate safely for decades while avoiding single-point failures in reactor cooling, energy conversion, and heat rejection; providing reliable sources of electrical power to support future space exploration needs," says INSPS research assistant professor, Timothy M. Schriener.

Educating Tomorrow's Engineers

As an academically-based, self-supporting research and development organization within the UNM School of Engineering, ISNPS stands by the belief that research is only half the equation. Without taking an active role in the education of tomorrow's engineers, today's sixth-grade through post-graduate level students - the promises of the future may never arrive.

UNM-ISNPS involves graduate and undergraduate students in its research and takes a proactive role in inspiring the next generation of college bound students to consider a career in nuclear engineering.

"To me, the education and outreach programs are the most valuable contribution we can make to the state of New Mexico and the nation," says El-Genk.