Civil engineering alum's research honored with Editor's Choice in Earthquake Spectra

Published December 19, 2023

“Nuclear energy must be at the forefront of the effort to rapidly decarbonize the global economy and achieve the Paris 2050 climate goals,” says Faizan UI Haq Mir, a recent PhD and postdoctoral associate in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. 

“The only pathway to make nuclear power viable is through standardization of advanced nuclear power plants, which can be achieved, in part, using seismic isolation. ”
Faizan UI Haq Mir, Postdoctoral associate
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Mir’s research paper “Earthquake response of head-mounted equipment in advanced nuclear reactors,” details findings from the multi-year experimental program at the University at Buffalo studying seismic fluid-structure interaction in the context of advanced nuclear reactors. The paper was selected has Editor’s choice in Earthquake Spectra.

“The only pathway to make nuclear power viable is through standardization of advanced nuclear power plants, which can be achieved, in part, using seismic isolation,” Mir (PhD ’23) says. “Our paper describes how seismic isolation can mitigate the effects of earthquake shaking on critical equipment installed on top of a reactor vessel and how well the earthquake responses of the equipment can be predicted using contemporary numerical tools.”

The experiments described in the paper were part of a larger program testing a scaled model of a fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactor and its internal components. 

Faizan UI Haq Mir.

Faizan UI Haq Mir

“For some of the experiments, we placed 300,000 spherical pebbles, representing the nuclear fuel, in the model vessel,” Mir says. “It was exciting to work on the specimen in the lab and have it now moved into practice.”

Mir is working with SUNY Distinguished Professor Andrew S. Whittaker, who is also a co-author on the editor’s choice paper. Other collaborators include co-authors Kaniel Tilow and Ben Kosbab with engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Nam Nguyen, PhD, Brian Song and Matthew Clavelli with the advanced reactor developer Kairos Power. The multi-year project was funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), and also involved Koroush Shirvan, Atlantic Richfield Career Development Professor in Energy Studies and Jacopo Buongiorno, Tokyo Electric Power Company Professor in Nuclear Engineering, both at MIT.

According to Earthquake Spectra, the peer-reviewed journal’s purpose is to “improve the practice of earthquake hazards mitigation, preparedness and recovery.”

Mir and the research group continue to collaborate with industry experts including advanced nuclear reactor developers in the United States. “We are imaging a future where nuclear power is safe, commercially viable and highly scalable,” Mir says. “Our team’s ongoing work is a step in that direction.”

Mir will begin as an assistant professor at IIT Jammu in early January 2024.