Oregon State University researchers are looking into new reactor designs that could provide safer nuclear energy.
Kathryn Higley, professor and head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University, is one of the researchers looking into a new reactor design called Westinghouse AP1000. Higley’s group conducted the integral system testing on the AP1000, which demonstrates a large shift from the types of designs used throughout the world since the beginning of the nuclear power industry.
The AP1000 uses “passive cooling,” in which a water tank is positioned above the core of the reactor, allowing gravity to do the heavy lifting in the cooling of the reactor’s core. This means that the reactor is able to function without power - even without staff - for several days.
OSU hosts a one-quarter scale test facility that uses electric heater rods rather than nuclear fuel.
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