OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU to host United Nations conference

06/09/2005

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University is preparing to host a week-long United Nations conference this summer that will bring delegates from 15 nations and 17 organizations to Corvallis, Ore., to discuss safer, "passive" nuclear energy technologies.

"We're thrilled that the United States, through its permanent mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, has agreed to have this important conference here at Oregon State," said José Reyes, professor and head of the OSU Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics.

Reyes returned in January from a year-long appointment in Vienna as a U.S. technical expert with this U.N. agency. He played a key role in OSU's selection as the site for the conference, which runs August 29 through Sept. 2.

Conference delegates will discuss natural circulation-based passive safety systems for use in nuclear power plants. Because these systems rely on natural processes such as gravity-driven circulation and natural convection, they are being considered for new nuclear plants worldwide, Reyes said.

OSU researchers lead the nation in the development and testing of passive reactor technologies that are simpler, more compact, and exceed the highest safety standards of the nuclear industry.

"Given the focus of our research, holding the U.N. conference here at OSU is a perfect fit," said Reyes. "Delegates will be able to see our research up close and tour our test facilities."

Only two passively safe nuclear plants in the world have obtained final design approval by their licensing authorities, and both were tested at OSU, whose graduate program in nuclear engineering is ranked ninth in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

At the conference, Reyes will demonstrate a new concept for a passively safe modular reactor design. The Multi Application Small Light Water Reactor design, developed jointly with Idaho National Lab and NEXANT-Bechtel, works on a "plug and play" principle that allows utility companies to increase capacity as revenue builds rather than waiting for a return on the huge initial investment required by traditional reactor designs.

The countries to be represented at the conference include Argentina, Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States.