Richard Howard

Richard H Howard

Group Leader/Senior R&D Staff Irradiation Engineer

Richard Howard is a Group Leader and Senior R&D Staff Irradiation Engineer with the Irradiation Engineering Group in the Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle Division. He works to design and develop experiments for various radioisotope, nuclear fuels, and materials research programs. This includes performing the research and development to create novel experiment designs, responsibility for project management & leadership, and producing/maintaining fabrication documentation to ensure quality assurance and control adherence (ASME NQA-1). The work requires expert knowledge in a wide range of physics (heat transfer, structural mechanics, neutronics), familiarity with common and advanced manufacturing techniques, and a sound ability to lead/work in large team environments. Notable successes include:

  • Supporting projects sustaining Accident Tolerant Fuels (FeCrAl and Mo cladding development) research with a consortium of institutions including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Idaho National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory ($400K - DOE sponsored).
  • Established safety basis for 227Ac production capsules and supported the development of a capsule assembly process for building the capsules in a hot cell environment (Work for others).
  • Task leader and lead engineer responsible for 238Pu isotope production target development at ORNL ($2M – NASA sponsored).
  • Task leader and lead engineer responsible for developing a novel experiment format for radiating and qualifying nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) fuel/instrumentation components ($100K – NASA sponsored).
  • Task leader and lead engineer responsible for resumption of domestic 60Co isotope production ($500K – DOE sponsored).
  • Irradiation of Inconel X-750 to understand CANDU garter spring spacer embrittlement research; sponsored by the CANDU Owners Group and the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories ($3M – Work for others).

Other responsibilities include providing technical expertise and collaboration for various experiment development efforts, create and expand existing technical resources for ORNL or other sponsors to support new research needs, and lab space management that facilitates a safe state-of-the-art research and development environment.

  • Development of a hot cell laboratory to encapsulate pre-irradiated samples in irradiation capsule (new capability established for ORNL).
  • Deployed a capsule production program at ORNL to meet the national demands for High Specific Activity (HSA) 60Co (exceeding schedule requirements while remaining under budget).

Dr. Howard received a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering department from the University of Tennessee; focusing on nuclear thermal propulsion. He received a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering at North Carolina State University, where he focused on computational thermal-hydraulics coupled with neutron transport models to simulate and enhance reactor core performance. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University.