The Atomic Show #094 – Hans and Mary Lou Gougar (with Charlie and Betty) – a nuclear family living in South Africa

Hans and Mary Lou Gougar are two of most interesting nukes that I know. They are currently living and working in South Africa for PBMR Pty Ltd. Their story is fascinating.

I got up bright and early this morning (0400) to prepare to record a conversation with two fascinating people. Hans and Mary Lou Gougar are friends who I have known since I gave a presentation about Adams Engines to their American Nuclear Society student chapter at Penn State University in 1994. They were a bit more – shall we say, mature – than some of the other students since they had already been working for several years as teachers before deciding to go back to school to earn their doctorates.

Hans’s permanent job is as a PhD engineer working on pebble bed reactor design and other advanced reactor projects at the Idaho National Laboratory. Mary Lou is a professor at Idaho State University, specializing in nuclear waste chemistry. Several months ago, Hans accepted a consultant position with PBMR Pty Ltd for a two-year stint in South Africa. As he explains it, there are only two places in the world that are actually developing pebble bed reactors, China and South Africa. As a specialist in that area, he felt a strong desire to put his knowledge to practical use.

Mary Lou is also working for PBMR Pty Ltd in a rather fascinating area of carbon isotope separation. You’ll have to listen to her explain.

In addition to enough technical talk to make even Shane smile, we spent some time talking about what it is like to live and work in South Africa. If you listen to the whole show, you will get a chance to hear Charlie (11) and Betty (9) talk about their experiences and share a couple of the new words that they have learned.

Enjoy the show! Feedback is always welcome.


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One Response to “The Atomic Show #094 – Hans and Mary Lou Gougar (with Charlie and Betty) – a nuclear family living in South Africa”

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  1. R Margolis says:

    Very fascinating podcast. Maybe a future discussion could also discuss current work advanced TRISO coatings (e.g., replacing SiC with ZrC) and dealing with the radioactive Ag issue (i.e., higher operating temperature for the PBMR causes more Ag to pass through the TRISO layers).