Libraries teams up with Nuclear Engineering to support NC SMR nuclear industry

Steve and Phyllis Rea

Steve and Phyllis Rea

The NC State University Libraries is excited to announce a partnership with NC State’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and the Stephen and Phyllis Rea Endowment for Mechanical Engineering Collections. In response to the nuclear power industry’s increasing interest in Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Technology, this partnership gathers together the technical resources NC State offers in SMRs in order to provide research support to North Carolina’s SMR nuclear industry.  

As Dr. Joseph Doster, Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering, points out, it is an industry full of potential for green power generation.

“Small Modular Reactors have been gaining interest both nationally and internationally as a means of increasing nuclear power's role in reducing climate change. Applications include replacement of aging coal-fired units in cogeneration and other industrial applications; desalination to produce potable water as native freshwater supplies decline and as part of Integrated Energy Systems which combine nuclear energy, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar; and energy storage technologies in support of both electric and nonelectric energy needs.” 

Doster adds, “This new energy paradigm is an active research area with relevant literature in the field growing rapidly. NC State has been a leader in this exciting new research area, and access to this growing body of literature is vital to the research and educational mission of the University.” 

Led by the Libraries, this partnership aims to provide that access. As Senior Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Greg Raschke notes that, “private support and endowments enable us to build quality collections that are the engine of a great research enterprise. In particular, they help us respond to new and growing areas of research.”

Steve Rea (‘80, ‘86), Senior Vice President of Nuclear Special Projects for Heyward Incorporated, is proud to give back to both a university and an industry that he’s been dedicated to for decades. “It is has been my great blessing to work in the NC nuclear industry for almost 40 years. This work gave me the opportunity to put my NC State M.S. concentration in Nuclear Engineering to work. Out of love and respect for this green industry, my wife and I formed the Endowment for Mechanical Engineering Collections to continue the advancement of NC’s robust power industry--nuclear in particular.”

Rea is excited about two high-profile examples in particular: “TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, has teamed with GE-Hitachi in Wilmington, NC to execute one of the two SMR contracts awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE) in late 2020. The second DOE contract NC State is partnering on is with X-energy. The contracts are each valued at $80M, and the deliverable is a fully operational Small Modular Reactor demonstration machine. NC State’s Department of Nuclear Engineering provides research and development technical support, and the NC State University Libraries provides collections resources. The Stephen and Phyllis Rea Endowment for Mechanical Engineering Collections is honored to support the Libraries on this important project.”