The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a 20-year relicensing for NC State's PULSTAR Reactor, enabling the university to continue to use the reactor for its original intent --research and education.
The PULSTAR Reactor, located in Burlington Engineering Labs, was approved for relicensing in April. A submittal for relicensing was presented to the commission in 1988, and a nine-year process of rewriting and submitting data to meet the NRC's changing regulations and higher standards followed. Commissioned in 1972, the PULSTAR Reactor is the fourth NC State nuclear reactor. Its power capacity is one-three-thousandth that of a typical commercial nuclear reactor.
"Relicensing means that we can really focus on the facility's future in a better and more strategic way," said Dr. Charles Mayo, director of the College of Engineering's Nuclear Reactor Program. "We look at it like we have a new facility."
Having completed a five-year strategic plan for the Nuclear Reactor Program last summer, Mayo said the program will address long-term maintenance and the development of its academic value in support of teaching, research, outreach and extension. The PULSTAR Reactor is used to educate undergraduate and graduate students in nuclear engineering, train technicians in operations and safety, and provide services for research and analyses at NC State and other institutions.
More than 1,000 people from across the state visit the PULSTAR Reactor annually. In addition, the program supports workshops and the Nuclear Engineering Department's Summer Camp for Young Scholars.
Pedro Perez, associate director of the Nuclear Reactor Program, said PULSTAR is a safe place to teach the community about nuclear science and technology.
"Everything we do here is completely monitored," Perez said. "We do not impact the students, the environment or the users."
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