David Dixon, PhD student in Nuclear Engineering, has gained notice for his ingenuity in a series of projects while working at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Most recently, he was honored as part of a team for his work on a new type of nuclear reactor that could be used on space flights. The team received an R&D100 Award in the Kilopower (Energy Technology) category in the September 2013 issue of R&D Magazine. Dixon and his colleagues demonstrated the first use of a heat pipe to cool a small nuclear reactor and power a Stirling engine at the Nevada National Security Site’s Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas.
Titled the “Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions,” the experiment produced twenty-four watts of electricity. The research team included engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center, and National Security Technologies LLC. This experiment demonstrated that a relatively simple concept could potentially be used to generate long-term electricity for deep space and long-term NASA applications
Dixon also served as a nuclear engineering expert and advisor to the US government as part of teams that responded to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 2011 Fukushima nuclear tragedy in Japan. Dixon received recognition for his work on these projects through two Secretary’s Achievement Awards from the US Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, presented in October of 2011. Only one other participant received two awards in this ceremony.