Michael David Muhlheim

Michael D Muhlheim

R&D Staff

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Dr. Michael D. Muhlheim is a research and development staff member in the Modern Nuclear I&C Group, in the Advanced Reactor Engineering and Development Section, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). 

Through experience and training, Dr. Muhlheim is well versed in performing qualitative and quantitative safety assessments on industrial facilities, nuclear facilities, and currently operating and advanced nuclear power plant (NPP) designs; evaluating the instrumentation and control (I&C) systems for NPPs, research reactors and space reactors; and developing new tools and metrics for evaluating those systems. Specifically, Dr. Muhlheim has

  • Performed technical evaluations for the NRC of the I&C systems for numerous NPPs including the US-APWR, ESBWR, APR1400, ACR-1000, Doosan, and GE-H.
  • Investigated and developed criteria for I&C systems including embedded digital devices, wireless communications, highly integrated control room communications, diversity attributes for safety-related digital systems, and digital twins.
  • Led the task to update the I&C format and content for licensee’s applications and reviewer guidance for performing the reviews of those applications for NRC staff for non-power production and utilization facilities (NPUFs). NPUFs include accelerators, training, research, and test reactors licensed by the NRC. This guidance, provided in Interim Staff Guidance, is also being used by new DOE research and test reactors and NPP small modular reactor (SMR) designs.
  • Performed qualitative and quantitative risk and safety assessments on all types of industrial and nuclear facilities using the most appropriate tool for each application including fault trees/event trees, failure modes and effects analysis, decision trees, block diagrams, vulnerability diagrams, phenomena identification and ranking tables, process hazards analyses, hazard and operability analyses, and criticality risk assessments that combined probabilistic and criticality evaluations.
  • Developed design tools to aid in identifying design alternatives based on probabilistic/deterministic metrics to observe how design changes affect a plant’s ability to respond to different internally and externally initiated events including component failures and component health.
  • Served as Assistant Editor/Editor-in-Chief of the award winning international technical journal Nuclear Safety.


  • B.S., in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee
  • M.S. in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee, emphasis in reliability and risk assessment, J. B. Fussell advisor
  • Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee, emphasis in radiation shielding, P. N. Stevens advisor