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AU alumnus to deliver McMahon Lecture on nuclear materials
10/21/10

John E. Marra, associate laboratory director for strategic initiative development at Savannah River National Laboratory (SNL), has been chosen to deliver this year’s John F. McMahon annual lecture at Alfred University.

Marra’s topic is “Advanced Ceramic Materials for Next-Generation Nuclear Applications.” His talk is scheduled for 11:20 a.m. Nov. 4 in Holmes Auditorium, Harder Hall, on the Alfred University campus.

Sponsored by the Inamori School of Engineering, the McMahon Lecture was established in 1980 to honor the late John McMahon, dean of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Each year, the School of Engineering selects an outstanding ceramic engineer or materials scientist to deliver the lecture.

Marra, a 1983 graduate of Alfred University with degrees in ceramic engineering and chemistry, earned his Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Since then, he has held various technical and managerial positions at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRR). In his more than 20 years at SRS and SNL, Marra has been involved with the managements and treatment of high-level radioactive waste, development and application of advanced materials, and advanced chemical process applications.

He has co-authored many publications on the application of ceramic materials in the nuclear industry.

He is past president of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS). He is an Fellow of the ceramics society, and a past chair and past trustee/director of the Nuclear and Environmental Technology Division of the society.

“The nuclear industry is in the eye of a ‘perfect storm’,” Marra explains in the abstract of his talk. “Fuel oil and natural gas prices near record highs; worldwide energy demands increasing at an alarming rate; and increased concerns about greenhouse gas emissions have caused many to look negatively at long-term use of fossil fuels. This convergence of factors has led to a growing interest in revitalization of the nuclear power industry within the United States and across the globe.

“Ceramic materials have long play a very important part in the commercial nuclear industry with applications throughout the entire fuel cycle, from fuel fabrication to waste stabilization,” Marra said. “As the international community begins to look at the next-generation nuclear technologies and advanced fuel cycles that minimize waste and increase proliferation resistance, ceramic materials will play an even larger role.”

Marra said his presentation at the McMahon Lecture will focus on the critical role ceramic materials play throughout the nuclear fuel cycle, and what critical advancements in materials will be needed to enable the ‘nuclear renaissance’.”