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Markus Piro, PhD - University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Oshawa, ON, CA

Markus Piro, PhD Markus Piro, PhD

Canada Research Chair in Nuclear Fuel and Materials, Assistant Professor Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science | University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Oshawa, ON, CANADA

Exploring methods for advanced nuclear fuel performance, safe storage, and next generation technologies



Safe and reliable nuclear energy is vital to powering homes and industry in Canada, yet the science and technology behind it has a profound impact on human health for its use in medical isotopes to diagnosis and treat cancer patients. Markus Piro, PhD, Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Nuclear Fuel and Materials, and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, is dedicated to the development of emerging nuclear technologies to improve these patients’ quality of life, as well as the advancement of nuclear energy to produce economically feasible and environmentally conscious electricity.

Dr. Piro’s extensive CRC research program explores three key areas: nuclear fuel performance and safety, spent nuclear fuel storage, and emerging nuclear technologies. His research aims to better understand industry challenges and develop mitigation strategies to improve efficiencies and the safety of nuclear reactor fuel. His research will also examine methods for the environmentally safe dispositioning of high level nuclear waste in a deep geological Canadian repository. Additionally, his research will lay the groundwork for emerging nuclear technologies including small modular reactors and Generation 4 reactors to be developed.

Before joining UOIT, Dr. Piro spent three years as Head of Fuel Modelling and Fission Product Transport Section at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in Chalk River, Ontario. He also brings international consulting experience in both aerospace and nuclear energy technology industries to UOIT. Previously, he was awarded a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where he developed novel numerical algorithms to enhance the performance and robustness of a thermodynamic software library. He also conducted extensive research to support medical isotope production. His ongoing collaborations with ORNL include software development of state-of-the-art nuclear fuel performance and safety codes, as well as multiscale, multi-physics materials codes for additive manufacturing.

Dr. Piro obtained both his Bachelor of Science and his Master of Science in Mechanical and Materials Engineering from Queen’s University in 2005 and 2007, respectively, and he earned his Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering at Royal Military College of Canada in 2011, all in Kingston, Ontario.

Industry Expertise (6)

Education/Learning Energy Industrial Automation Mechanical/Industrial Engineering Nuclear Research

Areas of Expertise (9)

Applied Mathematics Emerging Nuclear Technologies Energy Systems and Manufacturing Computational Thermodynamics Experimental and Computational Fluid Dynamics Nuclear Fuel Performance Safety Scientific Computing Spent Fuel Storage Multi-Physics Simulations

Accomplishments (4)

Top Reviewer Award, Journal of Nuclear Materials (professional)


Awarded in 2015, Dr. Piro has twice been recognized for his outstanding contributions to reviewing this journal. He received acknowledgement in 2014 as well.

Adjunct Professor, Royal Military College of Canada (professional)


Dr. Piro is an Adjunct Professor in the Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Department.

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (professional)


Dr. Piro was awarded a one-year post-doctoral fellowship in the Materials Science and Technology Division at the prestigious Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy.

Post-Graduate Scholarship, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (professional)


In 2010, Dr. Piro was awarded a substantial post-graduate scholarship by NSERC to continue his research.

Education (3)

Royal Military College of Canada: PhD, Nuclear Engineering 2011

Queen's University: MEng, Mechanical and Materials Engineering 2007

Queen's University: BEng, Mechanical and Materials Engineering 2005

Affiliations (4)

  • Canadian Nuclear Society
  • American Nuclear Society
  • ASM International
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Event Appearances (4)

Nuclear Fuel Modelling and Perspectives on Canadian Efforts in Fuel Development

The 12th Pacific Rim Conference on Ceramic and Glass Technology  Waikoloa, Hawaii


Numerical Challenges in Computing Thermodynamic Equilibria in Large Complex Systems and Upon Integration in Multi-Physics

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Conference on Mathematical Aspects of Materials Science  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


New Insights Into The Flow Inside Nuclear Reactor Fuel Bundles Using Magnetic Resonance Velocimetry

OECD/NEA and IAEA Workshop on Computational Fluid Dynamics for Nuclear Reactor Safety  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts


Experimental and Computational Investigations of Flow By-Pass in a 37-Element CANDU Fuel Bundle in a Crept Pressure Tube

OECD/NEA amd IAEA Workshop on Computational Fluid Dynamics for Nuclear Reactor Safety  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts


Research Grants (1)

Tier II Canada Research Chair in Nuclear Fuel and Materials

Canada Research Chairs Program $500,000


This major five-year research program explores three key areas: nuclear fuel performance and safety, spent nuclear fuel storage, and emerging nuclear technologies. Dr. Piro aims to improve the safety and economic feasibility of current and next generation nuclear power in Canada.

Courses (1)

Nuclear Fuel Cycles

NUCL 4810U, 4th Year Undergraduate Course

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Articles (10)

Thermal Properties of U-7Mo/Mg and U-10Mo/Mg Low-Enriched Uranium Research Reactor Fuels Journal of Nuclear Materials


Aluminum-clad U-7Mo/Mg and U-10Mo/Mg pin-type mini-elements (with a core uranium loading of 4.5 gU/cm3) have been fabricated at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories for experimental tests and ultimately for use in research and test reactors. In this study, the microstructure and phase composition of unirradiated U-7Mo/Mg and U-10Mo/Mg fuel cores were analyzed using optical and scanning electron microscopy, and neutron powder diffraction.

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Backbone: A Multiphysics Framework for Coupling Nuclear Codes Based on CORBA and MPI Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science


Recent trends in nuclear reactor performance and safety analyses increasingly rely on multiscale multiphysics computer simulations to enhance predictive capabilities by replacing conventional methods that are largely empirically based with a more scientifically based methodology. Through this approach, one addresses the issue of traditionally employing a suite of stand-alone codes that independently simulate various physical phenomena that were previously disconnected. Multiple computer simulations of different phenomena must exchange data during runtime to address these interdependencies. Previously, recommendations have been made regarding various approaches for piloting different design options of data coupling for multiphysics systems (Seydaliev and Caswell, 2014, “CORBA and MPI Based “Backbone” for Coupling Advanced Simulation Tools,” AECL Nucl. Rev., 3(2), pp. 83–90). This paper describes progress since the initial pilot study that outlined the implementation and execution of a new distribution framework, referred to as “Backbone,” to provide the necessary runtime exchange of data between different codes.

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An Overview of Thermochemical Modelling of CANDU Fuel and Applications to the Nuclear Industry Calphad


Thermodynamic models of complex chemical systems provide an elegant and cost effective means to predict chemical interactions of materials and to provide guidance to experimental research to minimise costs. Starting in 1995 at the Royal Military College of Canada, a thermodynamic treatment of irradiated nuclear fuel has been developed that not only describes the thermochemistry of the fuel at elevated temperatures during a potential Loss-of-Coolant Accident (LOCA), but it can also be used to help predict the oxidation environment for fresh fuel measurements, irradiated fuel behaviour, the aqueous chemistry of fuel debris in coolant, nuclear waste disposal, and other systems involving nuclear fuel. Furthermore, this treatment was supported by several experimental campaigns at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and the Institute of Transuranium Elements for validation purposes. This paper will trace the development of this treatment and demonstrate its current practice and future potential in the general context of performance and safety of nuclear fuel.

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Potential Mitigation Strategies for Preventing Stress Corrosion Cracking Failures CNL Nuclear Review


Potential mitigation strategies for preventing stress corrosion cracking (SCC) failures in CANDU fuel cladding that are based on lessons learned on both domestic and international fronts are discussed in this paper. Although SCC failures have not been a major concern in CANDU reactors in recent decades, they may resurface at higher burnup for conventional fuels or with nonconventional fuels that are currently being investigated, such as MOX or thoria-based fuels. The motivation of this work is to provide the foundation for considering possible remedies for SCC failures. Three candidate remedies are discussed, namely improved fabrication methods for fuel appendages, barrier-liner cladding, and fuel doping. In support of this effort, recent advances in experimental characterization methods are described—methods that have been successfully used in non-nuclear materials that can be used to further elucidate SCC behaviour in CANDU fuel.

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Global Optimization Algorithms to Compute Thermodynamic Equilibiria Computational Materials Science


Several global optimization methods are reviewed that attempt to ensure that the integral Gibbs energy of a closed isothermal isobaric system is a global minimum to satisfy the necessary and sufficient conditions for thermodynamic equilibrium. In particular, the integral Gibbs energy function of a multi-component system containing non-ideal phases may be highly non-linear and non-convex, which makes finding a global minimum a challenge. Consequently, a poor numerical approach may lead one to the false belief of equilibrium. Furthermore, confirming that one reaches a global minimum and that this is achieved with satisfactory computational performance becomes increasingly more challenging in systems containing many chemical elements and a correspondingly large number of species and phases. Several numerical methods that have been used for this specific purpose are reviewed with a benchmark study of three of the more promising methods using five case studies of varying complexity.

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Progress in Ongoing Experimental and Computational Fluid Dynamic Investigations Within a CANDU Fuel Channel Nuclear Engineering and Design


The present work investigates the velocity field within a simplified CANDU fuel bundle with Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) simulations and Magnetic Resonance Velocimetry (MRV). MRV is a relatively new experimental method that is not prone to many limitations inherent to conventional fluid flow measurement techniques. Initial results of a simplified non-deformed bundle are presented as a proof-of-concept study, while simultaneously introducing the MRV technique to the nuclear thermal–hydraulics community. The CFD predictions are generally in good agreement with experimental results, both of which reveal complex turbulent behaviour, including rotation, swirl and vortex shedding. This work presents progress in a greater effort to understand the fluid behaviour through a deformed fuel bundle in the context of safety.

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Concept for a Cyclonic Spray Scrubber as a Fission Product Removal System for Filtered Containment Venting Nuclear Engineering and Design


The application of a cyclonic spray scrubber as a technology for filtered containment venting is proposed in this paper. This study has paired a mechanistic model for the kinetic particle coagulation of with Euler–Lagrange discrete particle simulations in order to predict particle decontamination factors. The continuous phase behavior has been investigated using computational fluid dynamics simulations together with phase Doppler anemometry measurements.

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On the Interpretation of Chemical Potentials Computed from Equilibrium Thermodynamic Codes Journal of Nuclear Materials


Great progress has been made within the nuclear community in developing and applying thermodynamic models to better understand a variety of materials, as evidenced by the large number of publications on this subject in the Journal of Nuclear Materials. However, the interpretation of chemical potential values from equilibrium thermodynamic calculations, although numerically correct, may potentially be misleading under certain conditions. This is an important point to clarify as equilibrium thermodynamic calculations are increasingly used to augment models of various phenomena in multi-physics simulations [1].

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Fueling Nuclear Reactors ANSYS Advantage


Research reactors are used for a variety of applications, including materials testing, neutron radiography and the production of radioisotopes for medicinal and industrial purposes. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL, formerly Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.) ― Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology laboratory ― is developing a new low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel designed for use in research reactors around the world. LEU fuel is favored for research reactors because it reduces proliferation risks in comparison to highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuels.

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Conjugate Heat Transfer Simulations of Advanced Nuclear Research Reactor Fuel Nuclear Engineering and Design


The current work presents numerical simulations of coupled fluid flow and heat transfer of advanced U–Mo/Al and U–Mo/Mg research reactor fuels in support of performance and safety analyses. The objective of this study is to enhance predictions of the flow regime and fuel temperatures through high fidelity simulations that better capture various heat transfer pathways and with a more realistic geometric representation of the fuel assembly in comparison to previous efforts.

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