Structural engineering faculty member incorporating seismic technologies and nuclear energy

By Peter Murphy

Published May 21, 2018

SUNY Distinguished Professor Andrew S. Whittaker recently secured an award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) related to the seismic isolation of nuclear power plants and their internal structures, systems and components.


“The benefits of isolation, in terms of reduced seismic risk, have been established in prior MCEER studies funded by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy,” says Whittaker, “however, the lack of modern cost data has stymied best efforts to characterize the financial benefits of seismically isolating nuclear structures.”

This project, titled Cost basis for utilizing seismic isolation for nuclear power plant design, aims to answer some specific questions regarding the use of seismic protective systems, including: Is there a financial argument to be made for seismic isolation of nuclear power plants? Can seismic isolation be applied to advanced reactor designs that are deeply embedded? The project began in early May 2018 and will be completed by the end of 2019.

Whittaker joined UB in 2001 and received his PhD in structural engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987. He currently serves as the director of UB’s MCEER, SEESL and the Institute of Bridge Engineering. He serves on four American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards committees and is currently chair of ASCE’s Nuclear Standards Committee.