Natura selects Zachry Nuclear for design of ACU’s molten salt research reactor

August 21, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
A conceptual rendering showing a section view of the molten salt research reactor along with supporting systems and a simulator room for training students at Abilene Christian University. (Image: ACU)

Natura Resources of Abilene, Texas, has awarded a contract to Zachry Nuclear Engineering, which has offices in Connecticut and North Carolina, to complete the engineering and design of Natura's 1-MWt molten salt reactor (MSR). The agreement also provides terms under which Zachry may execute the engineering, procurement, and construction phase of the project. The dollar amount of the contract was not disclosed.

NEXT Lab on target for ACU

April 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
A south-facing view of the Dillard Science and Engineering Research Center at Abilene Christian University, scheduled for completion in the summer of 2023. The new facility will provide space for ACU’s NEXT Lab, as well as for research in chemistry, physics, and engineering.

Abilene Christian University’s Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Lab continues to make progress toward building a molten salt research reactor (MSRR) on the university’s campus. NEXT Lab submitted an application for a construction permit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last August, and in November the agency announced it had docketed the application—the first for a new research reactor in more than 30 years.

University profile: Abilene Christian University

April 21, 2022, 4:55PMNuclear News
The new Science and Engineering Research Center at Abilene Christian University (Photo: Abilene Christian University)

Nuclear News reached out to the Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) to ask for assistance in connecting with nuclear engineering programs at U.S. universities. Our request to universities was to provide us with updates on their programs and to detail their areas of special interest.

NEDHO came through big time. As a result, 20 nuclear engineering programs answered the call. In this series of articles, we will take a close look at university programs around the United States. This time, the focus is on Abilene Christian University, in Abilene, Texas.

Pebble bed reactors, friction, and cooling

May 25, 2021, 9:31AMANS Nuclear CafeLaura Simmons

When one of the largest modern earthquakes struck Japan on March 11, 2011, the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant automatically shut down as designed. The emergency systems, which would have helped maintain the necessary cooling of the core, were destroyed by the subsequent tsunami. Because the reactor could no longer cool itself, the core overheated, resulting in a severe nuclear meltdown.

Since then, reactors have improved exponentially in terms of safety, sustainability and efficiency. Unlike the light-water reactors at Fukushima, which had liquid coolant and uranium fuel, advanced reactors have a variety of coolant options, including molten-salt mixtures, supercritical water, and gases such as helium.