About the Nuclear Reactor Program

PULSTAR Reactor

The PULSTAR Reactor is a 1-MW pool-type nuclear research reactor which is administered by the Nuclear Reactor Program and located in Burlington Laboratory on the N.C. State north campus. The NC State reactor is one of two PULSTAR reactors built, and the only one still in operation. The other reactor was a 2 MW reactor at the University of Buffalo, which went critical in 1964 and was decommissioned in 1994.

NRP History

Physics faculty looking at nuclear reactor plans
The history of the Nuclear Reactor Program at North Carolina State University goes back to 1950 and the construction of the R-1 reactor, the first academic research reactor in the world. Since then, an additional three reactors have been built at three different sites on the NC State campus; R-2 & R-3 in the original “south” Burlington Lab, R-4 in the Bureau of Mines building, and the 1-MW PULSTAR adjacent to “north” Burlington Lab.

Read more about the history of NC State’s Nuclear Reactor Program. Also view NCSU Libraries’ photo collection of these and other historical photos of the reactor.

Reactor Operations Training

The Nuclear Reactor Program offers the opportunity to train at the PULSTAR Reactor facility to become a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed nuclear reactor operator. This opportunity is available to any student enrolled at N.C. State University. See the ‘Operations Training‘ page to learn more about this opportunity, and see the Personnel page for a listing of our currently licensed student reactor operators

Tour the Reactor Facility

Tours of the PULSTAR Reactor Facility are available to academic groups internal and external to NC State University, and to prospective facility users. Tours are by appointment only and must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance of the tour date. Photo ID’s are required to be presented for every person attending the tour. No cell phones, cameras, bags (e.g., backpacks, purses, etc.), or weapons are allowed in the reactor facility. Contact the Manager of Nuclear Services for more information or to schedule a tour.