Professor Jose Reyes leads a tour of the NIST-1 facility.
Friday, December 1, 2017

Jose Reyes, professor of nuclear engineering, is retiring after more than 30 years of service and will be appointed professor emeritus. First hired as an assistant professor at Oregon State University in 1987, Reyes was promoted to full professor in 1996 and served as the head of the College of Engineering’s Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics (now School of Nuclear Science and Engineering) from 2005 to 2010. He is the co-founder and chief technology officer of nuclear reactor company NuScale Power.

“My plan is to continue my strong connection to the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Oregon State University as an emeritus professor,” said Reyes. “I am excited about continuing my work with the leadership team at NuScale Power to provide scalable advanced nuclear technology for the production of electricity, heat, and water to improve the quality of life for people around the world.”

Known for his world-class expertise in thermal hydraulics, Reyes directed the Advanced Thermal Hydraulic Research Laboratory at Oregon State. Utilizing the Advanced Plant Experimental Facility, he also led the Westinghouse AP600 and AP1000 design certification test programs at Oregon State sponsored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy, and Westinghouse.

“I am most proud of the world class thermal hydraulic test facilities that we have built and continue to successfully operate at Oregon State,” said Reyes. “I cherish the many hours we have spent as a faculty creating innovative technologies and working on research aimed at solving global energy issues.” 

In the early 2000s, Reyes led a research project at Oregon State to design a small, modular reactor (hear the story in podcast form).

“The Department of Energy had a program called the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) and as part of that program they were looking for innovative ideas for new reactor concepts and just a whole range of technology concepts,” said Reyes in a recent podcast interview. “So we proposed what was called a Multi-Application Small Light Water Reactor (MASLWR), and so that was the genesis of what kind of later became NuScale.”

 In 2007, Reyes launched NuScale Power and took a leave of absence from Oregon State in 2010 to focus full-time on NuScale. In December of 2016, NuScale submitted the first ever small modular reactor design certification application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is now reviewing its design. The NRC’s review schedule supports NuScale’s first plant deployment in 2026. 

“Jose’s research throughout his career has consistently made critical advances to the safety and development of nuclear technologies, and now, through his efforts at NuScale, to the deployment of small modular reactors around the world,” said Andy Klein, Oregon State nuclear engineering professor emeritus, who’s worked with Reyes since 1987.

NuScale’s Integral Systems Test facility (NIST-1), which supports NuScale’s design application and review effort, is at Oregon State in the same high bay facility that the original MASLWR concept was first built.

Oregon State continues to conduct testing and related research for NuScale under the direction of Qiao Wu, professor of nuclear engineering. “Every year, we get about fifteen students, undergraduate and graduate students, working on the project,” said Wu. “They do the tests, they do the data analysis, instrumentation, calibrating, and quality assurance--all those aspects. I don't think they can get such an education or experience anywhere else. So, this is a huge lift to our program for our graduate students and undergraduate students.”

Reyes adds: “We are unique in providing real-world experience to our students that includes advanced computation, state-of-the-art testing under a rigorous nuclear quality assurance program, and the opportunity for entrepreneurs to move their innovations from the lab to the market. It is a fantastic learning environment.”

Under Reyes’ leadership, NuScale and Oregon State will continue to partner on research and practical educational opportunities.

“Though officially retired, Jose will continue to be an integral part of our faculty. His new appointment as emeritus faculty reflects this and recognizes his continuing commitment to staying connected to our program,” said Kathryn Higley, head of the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering. “We wish Jose all the best as he leads NuScale in finalizing its design and moving toward production.” 

— Jens Odegaard.