Seismic Response of Nuclear Fuel Assembly

Seismic Response of Nuclear Fuel Assembly (Prof. Manzari)

The catastrophic failure of Fukushima nuclear power plant due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 and the subsequent release of substantial amounts of radioactive materials led to a world-wide awakening regarding the design and operation of nuclear power plants. Development of validated analysis methods that can be used to predict the seismic response of nuclear power plants is an important step toward preventing future catastrophic events that may be caused by earthquakes.

In this research, CEE and MAE faculty and students at the George Washington University collaborated to explore the seismic response of a scaled structure that mimics the highly complex ingredients of a full-scale nuclear fuel assembly during moderate to severe ground shaking using shake table testing.  Advanced numerical simulations were also conducted to assess the validity of currently available numerical simulation techniques in seismic analysis of these complex structures.


seismic test specimen
Test Specimen



computational model
Computational Model




shake table results
Comparison of shake table test results with finite element simulations