History of the Nuclear Reactor Program
Starting in 1950 with the design and construction of the R-1 reactor, there have been a total of four nuclear reactors at NC State University located on three different sites. The R-1 was the first nuclear research reactor to be designed, built, and operated by an academic institution anywhere in the world. See the Nuclear Engineering site for a brief history of the department written by Raymond L. Murray, Professor Emeritus.
- June 5, 1950: Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Contract #AT-(40-1)-1032 provides for design and safety analysis of the
- May 12, 1951: Excavation work is started at reactor site.
- June 1951: Southeastern Construction Co. starts work on the reactor foundations.
- December 1951: R-1 Shield completed.
- January 1952: Wrenn-Wilson Construction Co. of Durham begins construction of reactor building.
- November 1952: Reactor Building completed - total cost of reactor and building is $630,000, including a $200 Thousand Dollar gift from the Burlington Mills Foundation.
- September 3, 1953: First R-1 reactor fuel shipment arrives from Oak Ridge, TN.
- September 5, 1953 @ 12:59 AM - Initial criticality of R-1 Reactor.
- June 1955: R-1 reactor is shutdown due to corrosion in reactor vessel and cooling coils. Total power generated was 60,000 kW-hrs.
- June 1955: Following the shutdown of the R-1 reactor, a new reactor vessel with a hemispherical bottom and safety envelope was constructed and inserted into the original R-1 shield. Like R-1, R-2 was a homogeneous uranyl sulphate fueled reactor.
- May 1957: Initial criticality of R-2. The maximum power level is 500 watts.
- December 1958: When the R-3 reactor design is conceived, the R-2 core is removed from the original bioshield, relocated to the Bureau of Mines Building on campus, and redesignated as reactor 'R-4'.
- December 1958: Work is initiated to build a heterogeneous reactor utilizing MTR (Materials Test Reactor) plate-type fuel located in the
- 1960: Initial criticality of R-3. The maximum power level is 10 kilowatts.
- 1973: The R-3 reactor is shutdown.
- 1980: The R-3 reactor is decommissioned.
- December 1958: The R-2 core is removed from Burlington Lab, relocated to the Bureau of Mines Building on campus,
- April 1959: R-4 Reactor operational. The maximum power level is 100 watts.
- 1961: The R-4 reactor is shutdown.
PULSTAR Reactor specifications.
- June 1, 1969: Construction is started on the PULSTAR Reactor. The reactor is designed and built by American Machine and Foundry (AMF) Corp.
- 1972: PULSTAR Reactor construction completed with a total cost of ~$1.5 Million.
- September 9th, 1972 @ 1:52 AM: Initial Criticality of PULSTAR Reactor. Maximum licensed power is 1 Megawatt.
- As of August 12, 2010: Total power generated by PULSTAR is 29,610 MW-hrs.
Additional historical information about nuclear reactors and engineering at NC State University:
- "The First Temple of the Atom"
- The First Temple of the Atom - supporting documents archive; Special Collections, NC State Library
- NC State University Library - historical reactor photo collections