Atom EEE 460 Nuclear Power Engineering

New In addition to the on-campus class section, this course is offered regularly via the Internet. For information on registering for the online section (EEE 591), see the Fulton GOEE Engineering Online.

This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the multidisciplinary applications of nuclear concepts in the engineering profession. The first third of the semester solidifies fundamental concepts related to the practical use of atomic and nuclear physics including particles, reactions, and radioactivity. With knowledge of the radiation physics, we study nuclear interations, fission and nuclear radiation. Finally, the semester concludes by applying the nuclear concepts to the generation of (electrical) power via both fission and radioactive decay processes.

ASU Catalog Description:

Radioactivity and decay. Radiation interactions and dose. Nuclear reaction, fission and fusion theory. Fission reactors, four factor formula, moderation. Nuclear power, TMI, Chernobyl. Nuclear fuel cycle. Prerequisites: CHM 114 (or 116) [chemistry]; MAT 274 (or 275) [differential equations]; PHY 241 (or 361) [modern physics].

Course Objective: Provide students with an understanding of the multidisciplinary applications of nuclear concepts in the engineering profession.

The corresponding Course Outcomes are

Course Links


Class MtgLecture Topic Handouts and Other References
1 Introduction; Atoms and Nuclei; Number Density (1.1-1.3) Atomic Number Density relations.
2 Relativity; Photons (2.1-2.2);
Atomic–Nuclear Models; Nuclear Stability (3.1-3.2)
Relativity relations and Physical Constants.
Electromagnetic Spectrum diagram.
3 Binding Energy; Nuclear Reactions; Q-value (4.1-4.7) Physics fundamentals.
Also see Mass Defect FLASH animation.
4 Radioactive Decay; Decay Law; Activity (5.1-5.5) Radioactive Decay derivations for simple, compound and complex decay. Also see Radioactive Decay FLASH animation.
5 Transmutation; Compound Decay (5.6) Transmutation equation derivations for buildup and decay
6 Decay Chains; Natural Radioactivity (5.7-5.9) U-238 Decay Chain diagram. Also see Radon and U-238 Decay FLASH animation.
7 EXTRA: Nuclear History 
8 Review for Exam #1 
9 *** Exam #1 ***  
10 Binary Reactions (6.1-6.4)  
11 Neutron Reactions; Fission; Fusion (6.5-6.7) Fission diagram; also see Fission FLASH animation.
Fusion (D-T) diagram; also see Fusion FLASH animation.
12 Attenuation; Flux; Cross-sections; Reaction Rates; Point Source (7.1-7.2) Neutron Reactions; and Gamma Radiation Shielding.
Graphs of Silicon and GaAs mass attenuation and energy-absorption coefficients [1].
13 Photon Interactions; Neutron Interactions (7.3-7.4) Graph of Silicon Interaction Coefficients [2]. Also see Gamma Interactions FLASH animation.
Neutron Cross-Sections and Nuclear Data.
14 Charged Particle Interactions (7.5) Charged Particle Ionization and Range.
Graph of the Aluminum Shielding of Electrons and Protons [3].
15 Radiation Dose; Dose Units; Exposure; Biological Effects of Radiation (9.1-9.4) Health Physics; and Radiation Units.
Diagrams of Radiation Paths in Tissue, Low Dose Biological Effects, and Radiation Exposure Pathways.
16 Review for Exam #2  
17 *** Exam #2 ***  
18 Moderation; Nuclear Fuel; Criticality; Multiplication Factor; Four Factor Formula (10.1-10.3) Four Factor Formula summarized.
19 Critical Reactor Core (10.4-10.5)  
20 Reactor Kinetics; Delayed Neutrons (10.6)  
21 Reactor Dynamics; Reactivity Feedback (10.7-10.8)  
22 Electric Power Generation; Gen II PWRs and BWRs (11.1-11.3) Power Generation; and Water Properties including steam tables.
Diagrams of PWR [4], BWR [4], and Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS). Also see Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) and Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) FLASH animations.
23 Nuclear Power Generation; Gen III and IV plants (11.4-11.5)  
24 Nuclear Fuel Cycle; Nuclear Waste and Disposal (11.6) Nuclear Fuel Cycle
25 Nuclear Propulsion (11.7); Fusion (12.1-12.3); Space Reactors (12.10)  
26 Thermoelectric Generators; Thermionics; Direct Energy Conversion; Radioisotopic Power Sources (12.4-12.5, 12.8-12.9)  
27 EXTRA: Three Mile Island; Chernobyl TMI-2 accident description and TMI-2 diagram [5];
Chernobyl accident description and Chernobyl (RBMK) Reactor Design diagram [6]
28 Review for Final Exam 
29 *** Final Exam ***  


  1. J. H. Hubbell and S. M. Seltzer, "Tables of X-Ray Mass Attenuation Coefficients and Mass Energy-Absorption Coefficients," NISTIR 5632, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD.
  2. Paul Kehler, Applied Nuclear Science Data, collected by AIC Software, Inc.
  3. E. J. Daly, A. Hilgers, G. Drolshagen, and H. D. R. Evans, "SpaceEnvironment Analysis: Experience and Trends," ESA 1996 Symposium on Environment Modelling for Space-based Applications, Sept. 18-20, 1996, ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands.
  4. Tennessee Valley Authority.
  5. B. Pershagen, Light Water Reactor Safety, Pergamon Press, 1989.
  6. Source Book on Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plants, 4th Ed., Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington, DC, 1996.

Some History

Nuclear Topics Links

Nuclear Topics Table of Contents and Quick Jump
Anti-Nuclear Basic Nuclear Data Fuel Cycle Fusion
Health Physics History Legal/Regulatory Natural (Background) Radiation
Nuclear Power Organizations Other Links Radioactive Waste
Safety Space Related Standards State of Arizona
Uses of Nuclear "Energy" Weapons  


Last updated: June 2, 2011
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