Washington State University’s nuclear reactor pool will be able to keep its cool longer, thanks to a $740,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The funds will pay for an upgraded, secondary cooling loop at the university’s Nuclear Science Center that will allow the 1 megawatt Triga Reactor to operate more often and longer in service of research projects.

The reactor rests about 25 feet deep at the bottom of a pool of 65,000 gallons of water, which helps dissipate the heat it generates when it is running. The current cooling system for the water is more than two decades old, and the new cooling loop will mean less thermal cycling in the reactor pool water. In other words, it will stay at a more consistent, cool temperature as opposed to going through cycles of heating up and cooling off.

“The goal is that when we get the system installed, we’ll be able to start up the reactor to a megawatt and the reactor pool water will hit an equilibrium temperature relatively quickly, and it will be stable for as long as we need to operate the reactor in support of all of our fantastic projects,” said Corey Hines, the Center’s director.

Planning and installation of the cooling loop will take place over the next two years.

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