Missouri S&T focuses on next-generation reactors

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | 7:57 a.m. CDT; updated 6:26 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ROLLA — Researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology are conducting work that could shape the next generation of nuclear reactors.

The state's first nuclear reactor was constructed more than 50 years ago at the Rolla school. Now, researchers there are tracking and measuring the movement of radioisotopes. Their goal is to understand how nuclear fuel pebbles would behave in what are called "fourth generation" nuclear reactors.

Instead of using fuel rods, the new reactors would house uranium fuel in spheres the size of tennis balls, which are called pebbles.

The school explains in a news release that the cores would be cooled by helium gas instead of water. These reactors are considered to be more efficient than water-cooled reactors and would operate at much higher temperatures.

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Michael Williams April 17, 2013 | 9:13 a.m.

Geez, I woulda thunk Ellis would be all over this.....

Bit early for a nap, Ellis.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 17, 2013 | 10:49 a.m.

Well, Michael, since you INSIST. Missouri's (not just this university's) oldest nuclear reactor sits in a building less than 100 feet from the campus' administration building (Parker Hall).

WHY, in tne name of God and the university, did we put it THERE, when the university owns property elsewhere in Phelps County?

BECAUSE WE COULD! This reactor poses no threat to either the campus or the City of Rolla.

All nuclear reactors licensed in the United States, regardless of their intended purpose, are rated in the equivalent amount of electricity they would produce - even if, as with the System's two research reactors, they do not produce electricity.

The MS&T reactor is by design one of the lowest power reactors - used for ANY purpose - in this country.

Again, WHY? Because it was designed primarily as an instructional vehicle. Its other main task has been to study effects of nuclear radiation on natural and man-made construction materials: a task well related to the campus' research efforts (research concerning all technical aspects of construction materials). More than a little of the use of this reactor is paid for by entities outside UM System, and represents INCOME to us.

[Our present reactor is of a design known as "pool," while my understanding is that the MU reactor is what's called a "modified tank" design; our reactor runs on standard uranium fuel, while the one in Columbia runs on that expensive "high test crap" (enriched uranium fuel). :)]

As I've prevously noted, MS&T academic personnel are also involved in a multidisciplinary effort by the glass industry to design, build and operate (but not on our campus) a new generation glass melting furnace, which will consume significantly less fuel per ton of glass produced and cut carbon dioxide exhausted to tne atmosphere.

Now, Michael, may I resume my nap. We Senior Citizens need or sleep. Geez!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith April 17, 2013 | 11:02 a.m.


Correction: Should read "We Senior Ctizens need our sleep." Actually I don't understand why I bothered to post, because the Columbia newspapers and KOMU present such frequent and lavish coverage of our activities and those of UMKC and UMSL. :)

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 17, 2013 | 11:03 a.m.

Thanks, Ellis.

My world is in order again*.

(*However, damned turkeys are NOT cooperating.)

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