Visible Reactor Lab


VCU’s visible reactor is a small (3 kW) thermal reactor patterned after a full-scale pressurized water reactor (PWR). The various components of the reactor are transparent, which allow students to visualize the thermal hydraulics and heat transfer phenomenologies taking place in the system. The visible reactor is equipped with a human-machine interface that allows operators to control and regulate the actuation of the various components and to monitor pressure, temperature and flow throughout the system.

The visible reactor has been designed and built by VCU students studying mechanical, nuclear and electrical engineering under the direction of VCU’s faculty, and new features are being added by the students every semester. VCU’s visible reactor is also routinely used as an instructional tool for various nuclear engineering courses, as it enables the study of energy generation and heat transfer, pressure control in a two-phase system, reactor core subcooling and operation of steam generators, as well as the use of measurement instrumentation.