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OSU to test newest nuclear energy concepts

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Unread 01.27.09, 03:00 PM
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OSU to test newest nuclear energy concepts

Oregon State University soon will have a “nuclear” reactor on campus. The reactor will not include any nuclear materials.

The university has received a five-year, $6 million grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to research a a new “super hot” type of nuclear reactor.

Design of the facility, to be based in the OSU Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics, is being done now. Construction should begin within a year, officials said.

The heat in the test facility core will be simulated using electric heaters, and it will not actually use any nuclear materials.

OSU’s role in this project is to build a one-quarter scale reactor and test designs, see what works best, simulate accidents, and provide safety data to regulatory agencies. The facility will cost $3.6 million and the remaining funds will be used for experiments and simulations. Texas A&M University and the University of Michigan are partners in this project.

Two different designs for these types of reactors are already under way in at least three consortiums in Japan, China, South Africa and the United States, and license applications could be on their way to the NRC within five to seven years, said said Brian Woods, an OSU assistant professor of nuclear engineering, if not sooner.

OSU was selected for this project, Woods said, in part because of its experience in the 1990s and later when the university built and operated test facilities that led to creation of the “passively safe,” next generation nuclear reactors now being constructed around the world.
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