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Oregon State University to test new nuclear energy technology

Researchers believe reactor will be safer, cheaper and more efficient

Oregon State University photoOne of the major components was installed in February of a $4.8 million facility at Oregon State University designed to test a new type of  super hot  nuclear reactor design.
Oregon State University photo
One of the major components was installed in February of a $4.8 million facility at Oregon State University designed to test a new type of "super hot" nuclear reactor design.

(N-R Staff) Oregon State University has begun construction on a $4.8 million facility to test a new nuclear energy technology, the school announced today.

The new "super-hot" type of nuclear reactor to be tested is cooled by helium gas, not water. Researchers say the design could produce electricity about 35 to 50 percent more efficiently, create half as much radioactive waste and , by the nature of its design, by insusceptible to meltdowns.

“Like any new technology, it will take some time for this to gain acceptance,” said Brian Woods, an associate professor of nuclear engineering and director of this project. “But by the middle of this century I could easily see high-temperature nuclear reactors becoming a major player in energy production around the world.” 

The concept has been known for some time, but it took advances in material science to it attractive to proceed testing.

Researchers believe the new kind of reactor could also produce hydrogen that could power automobiles.

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