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The PULSTAR reactor at North Carolina State University (NCSU) went critical in 1972 and has been operating at one megawatt thermal since then. To enhance the engagement of the PULSTAR in the institutional mission of NCSU, a strategic plan with well-defined education, research and service/outreach objectives has been under implementation since 2002. The combination of capabilities and partnerships has resulted in significantly enhanced utilization levels of the PULSTAR, which now approach 10,000 user hours annually.
The authors of this journal article propose generating electricity using spent nuclear fuel using a hybrid heat pipe system comprised of a dry storage cask with heat pipes and a Stirling engine. Using a 1/10-scale test facility, they conducted an experimental test of heat transfer and electricity generation as the module of the storage system, and their results agree with a theoretical model.