2012 Tulane Engineering Forum School of Science and Engineering
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Dr. Peter Lyons

Peter Lyons

Retired, Department of Energy

Dr. Peter B. Lyons retired from the Department of Energy on June 30, 2015. He now consults on several corporate and laboratory boards, as well as assisting several international groups. He was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy on April 14, 2011 after serving as Acting Assistant Secretary since November 2010. Dr. Lyons was appointed to his previous role as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Nuclear Energy in September 2009.

Prior to joining DOE, Dr. Lyons was appointed by President Bush and sworn in as a Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on January 25, 2005. He was subsequently nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He served until his term ended on June 30, 2009.

Previously, Dr. Lyons served as Science Advisor on the staff of U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources where he focused on military and civilian uses of nuclear technology from 1997 to 2005. From 1969 to 2003, Dr. Lyons worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he served as Director for Industrial Partnerships, Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Environment, and Deputy Associate Director for Defense Research and Applications. While at Los Alamos, he spent over a decade supporting nuclear test diagnostics.

Dr. Lyons has presented more than 400 papers or talks on a wide range of technical and policy topics in addition to testifying before the U.S. Congress on many occasions. He holds four patents related to fiber optics and plasma diagnostics and served as chairman of the NATO Nuclear Effects Task Group for five years. He received his doctorate in nuclear astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology in 1969 and earned his undergraduate degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1964. Dr. Lyons is a Fellow of both the American Nuclear Society and of the American Physical Society; received the Henry DeWolf Smyth Award from the American Nuclear Society and the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Alvin M. Weinberg Medal from the American Nuclear Society, and the James Landis Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; was recognized by the Nuclear Infrastructure Council for a Lifetime Achievement Award; and was elected to 16 years on the Los Alamos School Board.

Dr. Lyons grew up in Nevada and is now a resident of Golden, Colorado.

Presentation Description

The Role of Nuclear Energy in Clean Reliable Electricity

After discussion of the current role of nuclear energy in the U.S. electricity portfolio and reviewing the attributes that nuclear power brings to the grid, the economic stresses currently faced by nuclear energy in the U.S. will be discussed. The scientific consensus on the evidence for climate change will be briefly discussed, before turning to several pathways that can help assure a strong future for nuclear power. Issues like passive safety, small modular reactors, and hybrid energy systems will be briefly discussed along with the government emphasis on strong university programs in nuclear engineering. The national implications of a weakened nuclear power industry will be highlighted in closing, along with government actions that could reverse this concern.

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