The future of nuclear power? Think small
It’s not quite Stagg Field, the University of Chicago site of the first nuclear chain reaction in 1942. But perched in what looks like a giant birdcage at Oregon State University is a steel cylinder nearly 20 feet tall, thick as a redwood, bristling with gauges and wrapped in a tangle of wires. Nearby, in a windowless control room, two dozen digital displays surround a central operations bench.
Jose Reyes, the founder of NuScale Power, showed off the facilities like an owner appraising his barn of prize thoroughbreds. “Year by year we are getting closer to our goal,” he said.
If Reyes and other experts are right, his steel cylinder — a one-third scale model of the reactor his company hopes to build — will lead a revival of U.S. commercial nuclear power by overcoming two problems that have crippled the industry: escalating costs and the risk of devastating accidents.