David Senor, Laboratory fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) was recently selected to join the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC). As part of this committee, Senor will help guide the future of fusion energy research of the Department of Energy (DOE).
“Harnessing the power of fusion reactions is an interesting endeavor,” said Senor. “There are many engineering challenges and practicalities to overcome before we can start using fusion as a power source.”
Stars like the sun are powered by nuclear fusion. In these reactions, two atoms merge to form a larger atom. The most studied fusion reaction involves the fusion of two hydrogen isotopes—deuterium and tritium. One of Senor’s research projects involves using lithium ceramics as a solid breeder for tritium. “Making enough tritium for practical applications is a major challenge,” said Senor.
Senor has over three decades of experience in nuclear-related materials science and technology. As the chief scientist and science task manager of PNNL’s Tritium Technology Program (TTP), Senor led research supporting the production of tritium in tritium-producing burnable absorber rods in commercial light-water reactors. Though the tritium was used for a different purpose, this research provided beneficial knowledge that can be applied to nuclear fusion.
“Our research supporting the Tritium Technology Program provided a lot of useful knowledge about producing tritium in a very challenging radiation environment,” said Senor.
Senor received his BS, MS, and PhD in nuclear engineering from Texas A&M University. He is currently the TTP deputy manager for science and technology. He also serves on the Texas A&M Nuclear Engineering Department Advisory Council, and is the former chair of the American Nuclear Society Materials Science and Technology Division, and The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) Nuclear Materials Committee. Senor’s three-year appointment with FESAC will continue until June 2, 2025.