LSU researchers developing sensors to detect nuclear power leaks


LSU engineering researchers are developing sensors that could quickly detect nuclear power leaks with the help of a $500,000 grant from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission—the first grant LSU has received from the agency.

Though nuclear energy provides more than 20% of U.S. electricity, it’s a controversial power source because of famous leakage disasters such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima.

Jyotsna Sharma, a petroleum engineering professor, is leading a team of researchers that includes associate professors of mechanical engineering, geology and geophysics to develop a multifunctional fiber-optic sensor that will immediately detect a radiation leak.

Sharma’s team hopes its research will eventually help keep all nuclear power plants safe, including the two in Louisiana that produce 16% of the state’s energy. The 974-megawatt River Bend facility in St. Francisville recently received a license renewal through 2045, while the 1,159-megawatt Waterford 3 unit in Killona received a license renewal through 2044. The  plants, both owned by Entergy, together employ more than 1,500 workers. Read more from LSU.