Nick Whitman



I am a second year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. at Oregon State University under the direction of Todd Palmer. I received my B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University in May of 2016. My previous work and research has been primarily related to the neutronic modeling of special purpose nuclear power systems. Additionally, I have contributed to characterization and analysis work related to the radiation environment in the Fuel Ringed External Cavity (FREC-II) at the Annular Core Research Reactor (ACRR) at Sandia National Laboratories.


Lithium Aluminate is a ceramic breeder material that is of interest in the fusion community. Lithium Aluminate drastically changes microstructure and porosity as a function of neutron irradiation. These parameters directly impact the thermal performance properties of the ceramic. Certainty in thermal performance parameters is necessary for accurate and reliable modeling. The current fuel performance tools used by PNNL do not agree well with experimental data. Due to phonon transport being the primary heat transport mechanism in ceramic materials, Oregon State University and PNNL have partnered to develop a higher-fidelity mechanistic model based on phonon transport to approximate the thermal conductivity tensor in irradiated Lithium Aluminate. This model will eventually depend on the material microstructure, vacancy densities, defects and various other parameters that highly impact heat transport at the macro to micro-scale.



Work Experience

Personal interests