Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

In this course, students explore the engineering design of nuclear power plants using the basic principles of reactor physics, thermodynamics, fluid flow and heat transfer. Topics include reactor designs, thermal analysis of nuclear fuel, reactor coolant flow and heat transfer, power conversion cycles, nuclear safety, and reactor dynamic behavior.

Course Structure


Knief, R. A. Nuclear Engineering: Theory and Technology of Commercial Nuclear Power. 2nd ed. La Grange Park, IL: ANS, 2008. ISBN: 9780894484582.

Useful References

Buy at MIT Press Henry, A. F. Nuclear-Reactor Analysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1975. ISBN: 9780262080811.

Duderstadt, J. J., and L. J. Hamilton. Nuclear Reactor Analysis. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1976. ISBN: 9780471223634.

Cengel, Y., R. Turner, and J. Cimbala. Fundamentals of Thermal-fluid Sciences. Columbus, OH: Mcgraw-Hill, 2011. ISBN: 9780077422400.

Whalley, P. B. Boiling, Condensation, and Gas-Liquid Flow. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1990. ISBN: 9780198562344.

Todreas, N. E., and M. Kazimi. Nuclear Systems Volume I: Thermal Hydraulic Fundamentals. New York, NY: Taylor and Francis, 1989. ISBN: 9781560320517.


  1. Units: You are to conform to recommended engineering practice by using units based on the International System (SI).
  2. In writing your answers it is important that you supply enough information to show how you have solved the problem. It is not necessary to repeat derivations already given in enough detail in the text or lectures.
  3. It is considered acceptable for you to work completely independently. However, do not adopt your solution directly from any outside source without being sure that you understand both concepts and calculations.
  4. Computer usage: Some homework problems may be solved efficiently using Matlab, Mathcad or other computer programs.


Homework 30%
Mid-term quiz 30%
Final exam 40%

MIT Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.



Course introduction

Nuclear power overview

2 Nuclear power overview (cont.)  
3 Reactor physics review  
4 Reactor physics review (cont.) Pset 1 due
5 Thermal parameters + conservation equations  
6 PWR and BWR description Pset 2 due
7 Other reactor designs (heavy water, gas, liquid metal)  
8 Thermal analysis of fuel elements (introduction to fuels and heat conduction equation) Pset 3 due
9 Thermal analysis of fuel elements (temperature distributions + core max temperature)  
10 Ideal gas and incompressible fluid models + single-phase coolant flow (pressure drop and natural circulation) Pset 4 due
11 Single-phase coolant heat transfer (correlations + heat exchangers)  
12 Mid-term quiz  
13 Pure substance model two-phase coolant flow (parameters) Pset 5 due
14 Two-phase coolant flow and heat transfer (pressure drop + boiling) Pset 6 due
15 Two-phase coolant heat transfer (boiling crises + demos)  
16 Power cycles (Rankine) Pset 7 due
17 Power cycles (Brayton)  
18 Nuclear safety (pillars + thermal limits + protection system + ECCS + severe accidents + containment) Pset 8 due
19 Structural mechanics (elasticity fundamentals + thin-shell theory) Pset 9 due
20 Structural mechanics (stress limits)  
21 Visit to the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station  
22 Dynamic behavior of PWR (with use of PRISM simulator) Pset 10 due
23 Dynamic behavior of BWR (with use of IAEA simulator)  
24 Advanced LWRs  
25 Final exam review  
26 Final exam  

Course Info

Learning Resource Types

assignment Problem Sets
grading Exams with Solutions
notes Lecture Notes