What is Nuclear Engineering?

Nuclear engineering is the science that studies the optimal design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.


Where is Nuclear Engineering headed?

While nuclear engineering started off as the nuclear weapons development program of American governments during World War II, which culminated in the fierce some bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the lessons learnt in war were in peacetime applied to producing clean and affordable nuclear power. 

However, the risk of countries abusing their knowledge of nuclear engineering to produce nuclear weapons have been hanging over the nuclear industry to this day. So, to gain more insight into the history of nuclear engineering and the international safeguards and agreements that were put in place to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to stimulate the peaceful production of clean nuclear power, CLICK HERE to read more about the history of Nuclear Engineering.


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The DST/NRF SARChI Research Chair in Nuclear Engineering

The DST/NRF SARChI Research Chair in Nuclear Engineering is the only research chair in nuclear engineering in South Africa and NWU is the only university in South Africa with a PhD program in nuclear engineering. The aim of the chair is to do world-class research and contribute to the training of highly qualified nuclear engineers, scientists and technologists  to serve the needs of the country. The main emphasis is on the new generation of light water reactors and high temperature gas-cooled reactors with improved safety and efficiency features. The team focuses on the computer modeling of the neutron behavior, heat transfer and fluid flow of the reactors and the associated systems. The chair collaborates closely with selected international and national partners such as the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, the Nuclear Energy Company of South Africa and the National Nuclear Regulator. Members of the chair are also involved in a research programme under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The research outputs of the chair published in journals and presented at conferences enjoy wide spread international recognition. The chair has also made valuable contributions regarding the ongoing debate on nuclear energy in South Africa. 

The Chair is linked to the Unit for Energy and Technology Systems (UETS), one of the Research Entities in the Faculty of Engineering.  UETS presents, in close collaboration with the Chair, post-graduate modules in nuclear engineering, nuclear radiation, reactor safety, reactor analyses as well as business-oriented courses nuclear project management and nuclear techno-economic aspects.  A masters in Nuclear Engineering which combines the engineering and focused management aspects in nuclear technology, has been endorsed by the International Nuclear Management Academy of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Many of these courses are prerequisites for enrollment in research programs.