National Organization of
Test, Research and Training Reactors
University Research Reactors:
Contributing to the National Scientific and
Engineering Infrastructure from
1953 to 2000 and Beyond
A Report to
NERAC Subcommittee to
Analyze the Future of University Nuclear Engineering and
Pedro B. Perez
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7909
February 22, 2000
TRTR Executive Committee
Pedro B. Perez, Chairman
North Carolina State University
Wade J. Richards, Chair-elect
Steve Miller, Treasurer
William Vernetson, Secretary
University of Florida
John A. Bernard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stephen E. Binney, Oregon State University
Leo M. Bobek, University of Massachusetts – Lowell
James W. Bryson, Sandia National Laboratory
Brian Dodd, International Atomic Energy Agency
Tawfik M. Raby, National Institute of Science and Technology
Junaid Razvi, General Atomics
Gary Stimmell, General Electric
Ray Tsukimura, Aerotest Operations
Bernard W. Wehring, University of Texas – Austin
The National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors (TRTR) has prepared this report in response to a request from the DOE NERAC Subcommittee charged to analyze the future of university nuclear engineering and research reactors. TRTR recognizes university research reactors (URRs) as national assets serving their local communities and the Nation in a wide spectrum of applications. The following contributed success stories from university research reactors assist to demonstrate the TRTR position.
The following material reflects the personal views of the author as the TRTR Chairman for 2000 and does not reflect the North Carolina State University formal thoughts or positions.
The United States was the early international leader in nuclear science education, research and applications. Today, the international community recognizes our Nation for falling behind in this field of science the U.S. pioneered. Neutrons are increasingly becoming essential tools for studies in the physical and bio-medical sciences. Epithermal neutrons are used in Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) in the medical efforts to overcome gliobastoma multiforme and deep-seated melanoma tumors. Low energy or cold neutrons are ideal probes for fundamental research in nuclear and particle physics and the physical structure of biological cells. However, leading-edge research is only possible with high quality scientists and engineers. Education in nuclear science and engineering is an important factor in the strength of our national science and health programs. The Nation’s training, research and tests reactors are viable neutron sources prepared to meet the present and future multi-disciplinary educational and research objectives.
The U.S. government currently operates only two test reactors supporting the sciences. These facilities alone can not accommodate the growing research community. In addition, test reactors can not be used for educational purposes due to the necessary round-the-clock operation supporting research and isotope production. University research reactors ranging in power levels from 10 MW to zero-power critical facilities are essential contributors to the national scientific and engineering infrastructure.
A Department of Energy (DOE) study in 1994 identified university research reactors as geographically distributed nuclear resources and knowledge bases for education, research and informed discussion with public issues. University research reactors readily provide neutrons to researchers. However, university research reactors have closed at an alarming rate from about seventy (70) facilities in the late 1970s to twenty-nine (29) in 2000. The facility closures are primarily due to facility under utilization and university administration budget constraints. Universities typically provide a budget for maintaining a reactor operations and maintenance staff. Little or no funds are available for establishing a multi-disciplinary infrastructure that develops a reactor user community from the campus and local industry.
A question often asked is "What is the Nation missing with these research reactor closures?" However, the important question should be: What scientific discoveries have we missed by not providing the scientific community with the necessary neutron sources? Our Nation, our health and our future can not afford a missed scientific opportunity. Collaboration between DOE, nuclear engineering departments and respective reactor facilities strengthen each for the scientific challenges of the next century.
TRTR considers all remaining twenty-nine (29) university research and training reactors as critical components of the national scientific and engineering infrastructure. University research and training reactors must establish a multi-disciplinary infrastructure in order to strengthen their position within the university. Reactor laboratories have to be equipped with the necessary instruments to attract external interest. Beam guides and instruments have to be designed and built to meet research requirements. Services such as neutron radiography and neutron activation analysis (NAA) should be established where the neutron fluence is available. DOE funds awarded to university reactors help to support the resources necessary for establishing the much-needed multi-disciplinary infrastructure. Neutron users interact with nuclear engineering departments and reactor staff to design, construct, and produce the required research resources for academia and industry. These symbiotic collaboration benefits all national parties involved and clearly help to meet the Department of Energy commitment to support the long-term energy research and development needs of the Nation.
TRTR continues to recommend increased funding for university research and training reactors to update and enhance facilities for meeting the current and projected education, research, and service requirements. The DOE investment in existing operating university reactor facilities will be an efficient and cost effective method for improving U.S. technological competitiveness.
Pedro B. Pérez
TRTR 2000 Chairperson
These are the personal reflections of the author and do not necessarily reflect the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) official thoughts or positions.
The US National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors (TRTR) represents the largest group of such facilities in the world. The IAEA research reactor database (RRDB) shows that there are 54 operational research reactors in the USA. This is 19% of the world’s total, yet unfortunately these facilities have very little impact on the research reactor community and their users world-wide.
As an example, the IAEA holds a major symposium every 3 to 4 years for research reactor operators, owners, users and regulators. About 142 persons attended the Symposium on Research Reactor Operation, Utilization, Safety and Maintenance held in Lisbon in September 1999 from 42 countries and yet there was not one US research reactor operator, owner, user or regulator present. The participants noted this total lack of participation with dismay. There were many who noted that the USA has such a lot of experience, can help others so much and can significantly contribute to the further development of research reactors world-wide, yet does not appear to be willing to do so. The Lisbon Symposium was not an isolated situation. At the last meeting of the International Group on Research Reactors (IGORR7), only one US reactor was represented, and the author ended up making the presentations of other USDOE research reactor personnel who could not attend.
The IAEA has about 40 technical co-operation projects aimed at assisting research reactors in developing countries operate their reactors in a safe manner and with full utilization. Parts of these projects involve sending experts to the facilities from developed countries and sending personnel from the facilities to research reactors in advanced states. Again, the United States assists in these missions, scientific visits and fellowships only a very little.
It is sad that in recent years the USA has been notable by its absence in the IAEA’s Technical Committee meetings and the follow up consultant’s meetings dealing with the development of the Agency’s Research Reactor Safety Standards. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is recognized as one of the world’s most respected leaders in this field, but its lack of participation is having an impact on these standards.
The USA has lost, or is losing, its status as the world’s leader in research reactors. The fact that a major new research reactor has not been built or even planned in the USA for many years means that other countries are rapidly moving ahead in the research fields which need such reactors. Notable in this respect is the work being done in such countries as Germany, France, Japan, Korea, Hungary, and China.
In short, the USA used to be a major participant in the international research reactor community, now its participation is negligible. Clearly, the major hindrance is funding. If the US government and its agencies had taken the advice of the several committees they themselves had formed to study US research reactors this sad situation would not have occurred.
The central mission of the Ward Center for Nuclear Sciences (WCNS) is to provide safe analytical and testing facilities for the research and education activities of faculty, staff and students at Cornell University.
Its resources are also available to users outside Cornell as part of the public service functions of the University, symbolized by its status as the Land Grant University of the State of New York. The largest facilities at the WCNS are a 500 kW TRIGA Mark II Pulsing Nuclear Research Reactor and a 10,000-Curie Cobalt-60 Gamma Cell. Initial criticality of the Cornell TRIGA reactor was achieved on January, 1962, under a steady state, 100 kW power license. The license was renewed with increased power limit to 500 kW in steady state and $3.00 in pulse operation in November 1983. The Cornell TRIGA has been extensively utilized during the last 38 years of operation by a diverse group of users within Cornell University, by governmental institutions, and by industrial companies. Instruction and research activities were first initiated in the field of Nuclear Engineering at Cornell’s School of Applied Engineering Physics and then as the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program. The Ward Laboratory at Cornell, which houses the Cornell TRIGA reactor, became the Ward Center for Nuclear Sciences in January 1997. With the approval of the Cornell Board of Trustees, the Ward Center became a unit under the Vice Provost for Physical Sciences and Engineering. This administrative change makes the Cornell TRIGA reactor the core of a true university-wide research and teaching facility to provide interdisciplinary teaching and research capabilities to students and faculty in all colleges at Cornell.
The Cornell TRIGA reactor is the only operating university research reactor in the State of New York. The Cornell TRIGA is used as a source of radiation for numerous nuclear analytical and testing facilities. These facilities include: Neutron Activation Analysis, Fast Neutron Irradiation, Neutron Radiography, Neutron Induced Auto-Radiography, Cold Neutron Source, Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (near completion), and Neutron Depth Profiling (near completion). In addition the development of a Boron Neutron Capture Therapy facility and a Neutron Reflectometer facility are planned. Recently we received funding from NSF to build a dedicated neutron activation analysis laboratory for the analysis of dendrochronologically dated tree rings for the identification of volcanically-influenced periods of environmental change.
The academic program for nuclear sciences is organized under the graduate field of Nuclear Science and Engineering, and offers M. Eng., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The Cornell TRIGA reactor is utilized by the graduate programs both in courses and in design and research projects. In the past five years, the average annual number of graduate students involved in design and research projects utilizing the reactor has been about eight.
Idaho State University
The Idaho State University Nuclear Reactor Laboratory (NRL) supports the University and College of Engineering efforts to provide high quality undergraduate and graduate education; perform basic and applied research; disseminate knowledge and public education, provide training, and specialized analytical services in support of institutions, agencies and industries in the state of Idaho and the Nation. University research reactors perform a significant role in the development and application of nuclear science and technology and in the education and training of personnel entering the field. There are no nuclear power plants in the state of Idaho and, with the exception of the few test and research reactors still in operation at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), the ISU AGN-201 training and research reactor is the only facility in the immediate area that is accessible by the general public for reactor operation training, irradiation services, and public education to promote awareness of the beneficial uses of nuclear reactors and nuclear energy.
The primary on-campus users outside the Nuclear Science & Engineering Program are the Departments of Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, the College of Pharmacy, and the School of Applied Technology. Since 1967 there have been more than 25 M.S. degrees and 3 Ph.D. degrees (a relatively new program) completed that involved the use of the AGN reactor. All of these degrees were in Nuclear Science & Engineering. Off-campus users include the Environmental Engineering Division of the J.R. Simplot Company, the INEEL Operational Dosimetry Unit, Lockheed Environmental Systems and Technologies Company, and Scientech. The ISU AGN reactor is also utilized for professional training programs. Workshops have been presented for DOE personnel and DOE contractors. State and local radiation protection personnel have participated in our training programs. In addition, many primary, middle, and high schools located within a 100-mile radius of ISU have visited the facility for reactor tours and demonstration experiments.
The facility is also used extensively for nuclear science demonstrations by several programs with student participants from a broad geographical region, including the Fort Hall Indian reservation. We have brought several groups of Native Americans from the Fort Hall reservation to the NRL under the American Indians in Science and Engineering Program in an effort to spark interest in careers in engineering and the physical sciences. The Science Trek program, co-sponsored by the Idaho Public Television Stations and the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH), attracts elementary school students from Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and all parts of Idaho. These students attend this annual over-night event at which they gain hands-on science exploration experience at several participating ISU laboratories. Ten of these students are selected to participate in nuclear science experiments using the AGN reactor. This session has traditionally been one of the most popular sessions based on the number of students who request it during registration. Another program sponsored by the IMNH brings regional Girl Scouts to ISU for the Idaho Summer Institute – Forays into the Field. The purpose of this week-long program is to promote careers in science for young women. This year, the girls spent an afternoon in the NRL learning about nuclear energy and performed a experiment in which they measured the half-life of a radionuclide generated in the AGN reactor. One other program that uses the AGN reactor is the ISU Summer Engineering Academy sponsored by the College of Engineering. This program, which is now two-years old, brings 40 high-school juniors representing different high schools from across the state of Idaho to take part in a week of special classes, laboratories, and tours designed to increase interest in an engineering career. Participants are organized into four groups of ten students; each group spent an afternoon in the NRL performing demonstration experiments using the AGN reactor. Each student observed the startup and shutdown of the reactor, and was even given the opportunity to briefly operate the reactor under the direction of a licensed operator.
We believe that all of these programs are important to help stimulate greater interest in, awareness, and understanding of nuclear science, while at the same time to help reduce the public’s irrational fear of things "nuclear" through direct "hands-on" education and experience.
J.S. Bennion, Reactor Administrator
(with grateful acknowledgment of the write-up by C.W. Mayo, P.B. Pérez, and J.N. Weaver)
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Reactor (MITR-II) operates at 5 MW. It is a heavy-water reflected, light-water cooled and moderated research reactor that utilizes flat, plate-type fuel. The MITR is the major experimental facility of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory, which is an interdepartmental laboratory that functions as a center of both education and research for many MIT departments as well as local-area universities and hospitals.
The MITR has a very broad research program that encompasses most aspects of neutron science and engineering including nuclear medicine (neutron capture therapy and radiation synovectomy), neutron activation analysis for the identification of air pollutants and isotope ratios in geological specimens, fission engineering including digital control of spacecraft reactors, materials testing and evaluations, and teaching. The MITR is one of only six facilities in the world to be engaged in patient trials for the use of boron neutron capture (BNCT) therapy to treat both glioblastoma multiforme (brain tumors) and deep-seated melanoma (skin cancer). Many types of experiments have been conducted. A sampling includes:
John A Bernard
The North Carolina State University Nuclear Reactor Program (NRP) supports the University and College of Engineering efforts to provide high quality under- graduate and graduate education; perform basic and applied research; disseminate knowledge, provide training, and specialized analytical services in support of institutions, agencies and industries in the state of North Carolina and the Nation.
The first reactor dedicated to education and academic research reached criticality on our campus in 1953 (on left). The fourth and current reactor is the 1 MW PULSTAR reactor initially licensed in 1972 and re-licensed by the NRC in 1997 for an additional 20 years of operation.
The history of the PULSTAR reactor (at right) shows diversity in its use by departments at NCSU and by other colleges and universities. The primary on campus users outside the Department of Nuclear Engineering are the Departments of Wood and Paper Science, Textile, Microbiology, Chemistry, Botany, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Material Science and the College of Veterinary Science.
Off campus academic users in North Carolina are Duke University Medical Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Western Carolina University. Since 1973 there have been 34 M.S. degrees and 12 Ph.D. degrees completed that involved the use of the PULSTAR reactor. Fifteen of the M.S. and five of the Ph.D. degrees were in Nuclear Engineering. The other degrees were in Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Wood and Paper Science and medical research programs at Duke University. Thirty-four researchers outside of Nuclear Engineering are users of the PULSTAR reactor and associated facilities. North Carolina grade school students use the PULSTAR reactor for science curriculum activities including experiments, tours, lectures, science fairs, special projects, and participation in our Young Scholars in Nuclear Science summer program.
The NRP is nationally recognized for the environmental analytical program involving NAA. In North Carolina alone, the NRP has multiple 25-year running programs in support of coal-fired electric utility environmental permitting programs. Also, its 30-year interaction with the Environmental Protection Agency includes over 20 years of daily analytical support to EPA's air pollution monitoring program that controls air quality standards over the U.S., the early certification of the clean coal mine reserves in the United States for elemental pollution, the development of certified EPA methods for waste water analysis, the development and publication of nuclear analytical methods for the analysis of air particulates for the EPA Methods Compendiums and, over 10 years of analytical support to DOE's Remedial Action Cleanup Projects around the U.S.
The PULSTAR reactor is also utilized for professional training programs. Nuclear utility operators and engineers, DOE Interns, State and local radiation protection personnel participate in our training programs.
C.W. Mayo, P.B. Pérez, and J.N. Weave
The Ohio State University Research Reactor (OSURR) achieved initial criticality in 1961. The OSURR was originally a 10 kW natural convection pool-type reactor. The standard core loading was approximately 3.5 kg of high-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel. In the 1980's, the OSURR underwent an upgrade.
The HEU fuel was exchanged for low-enriched fuel (LEU), and the licensed operating power was increased to 500 kW. During the upgrade, a two-loop cooling system was installed. As a land-grant school, our focus is education, research, and service Thus, we support educational activities, research by various individuals and agencies, and service work, both to private industry and educational users. The most recent annual report listed the following activities:
The Oregon State TRIGA Reactor (OSTR) is housed within the Radiation Center on the campus of Oregon State University (OSU). The mission of the Radiation Center is to provide high quality nuclear-related facilities and services to interested users in support of their projects.
The Radiation Center strives to be a local, regional, national, and international resource of excellent service to those communities. The Center prides itself on being involved on local level. Working with the Oregon Office of Energy, the Center has coordinated the HAZMAT Radiological Training Courses for HAZMAT response teams throughout the State of Oregon for the last 15 years. With the closing of the State of Oregon environmental radiological monitoring laboratory in Portland, the Radiation Center is essentially now the only place in the state where radiological monitoring can be performed. Two recently completed projects underscore the Center’s commitment to the community. First, after requests from Northwest and Canadian businesses, a gas irradiation facility was constructed for 41Ar gas production. We can now supply and ship the tracer to any refinery or similar facility in the Northwest with 24 hours notice. Second, a local District Attorney requested forensics assistance from the Center. This involved neutron activation analysis and a significant amount of testifying on evidence related to a high profile triple homicide case.
Academic involvement is the most important form of service that the OSTR can provide. The Radiation Center supported 96 different courses this past year, mostly in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, here at OSU. Other departments include Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Geosciences, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences, Bioresource Engineering, Honors College and Naval Engineering. About one-third of these courses, totaling 1,114 hours of reactor operation, directly involved the OSTR. Additionally, five classes from three different universities/colleges used the OSTR as part of their laboratory curriculum.
Use of the OSTR by researchers has remained strong. The number of projects supported this year was 126, with 69% directly involving the OSTR. The contracts supporting these research projects totaled approximately $3,000,000. This year the Radiation Center provided service to 55 research faculty and 93 students from 51 different institutions, 63% of which were from outside the State of Oregon and 14% of which were from outside the U.S. and Canada. So while the Center’s primary mission is local, it is also a facility with a national and international clientele.
In addition to formal academic and research support, the Center’s staff provides a wide variety of other services including public tours and instructional programs, and professional consultation associated with the feasibility, design, safety, and execution of experiments using radiation and radioactive materials.
S.E. Binney, S.R. Reese, and D.S. Pratt
The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Radiation Science & Engineering Center (RSEC), which houses the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor (BNR), is an education and research tool serving the university, the state, and the nation. The BNR entered service in 1955 and was the first reactor licensed by the Atomic Energy Commission. It operates under license R-2. The license was renewed for another 20 years in 1986 and a second 20-year renewal application is planned.
The BNR began life as a MTR pool type reactor licensed for 100 kW. In 1960 the power was increased to 200 kW. As use of the reactor expanded the facility was enlarged in 1962 and again in 1964 with the addition of laboratories, hot cells, a Co60 pool, offices, and classroom. In 1965 the reactor was upgraded from the plate type, highly enriched MTR fuel to a 1 MW TRIGA core. This modification provided a significant power increase from 200 kW to 1 MW while maintaining the use of natural circulation for cooling. The modification provided two other improvements: the fuel change moved from 93% enriched fuel to less than 20% enrichment thus lowering the reactor's safeguards category; and secondly, the TRIGA design provided for pulsing capability up to about 2000 MW. In the early 1990s the facility was further upgraded with the installation of a digital monitoring and control system. The reactor bridge was also modified to permit both X and Y movements as well as rotation of the reactor tower; this allows increased operational flexibility since experimental facilities can be located anywhere in the pool. The facility has a full time staff of 17, assisted by about a dozen students, supporting education, research, and service.
The RSEC has provided training for both foreign and domestic reactor operators. Support is provided for work throughout the university and has included forensic research, archeology, anthropology, materials development, solid state device enhancement, geological characterization, waste and clean water monitoring, air monitoring, NAA, neutron radiography and radioscopy, neutron transmission measurement of borated aluminum, chemistry, two phase flow studies, pipe wall thinning measurements, food and plant irradiation, soil studies and sterilization, reactor control, angular correlation, radioactive tracer studies, radioisotope production and numerous other scientific and engineering usages. During the past year 54 faculty and staff, 27 graduate students, and 30 undergraduate students performed research at the facility and 9 Master's theses and 5 Doctoral dissertations were completed. In addition 31 individuals from 18 industries, research organizations, or other universities used the facility.
The RSEC conducts a significant outreach program focusing on high school and junior high school students and teachers. Around 3000 people from outside the university annually participate in tours, classes, and experiments.
The Purdue University School of Nuclear Engineering operates the PUR-1 reactor. This reactor is the first and only operating reactor in the state of Indiana. It is used as an integral part of both the undergraduate and graduate programs in Nuclear Engineering, as well as having a highly visible role in public education about nuclear processes.
The PUR-1 reactor is a 1 kW pool type reactor that utilizes flat plate MTR type fuel. First critical on August 30th in 1962, the reactor was re-licensed in 1988 for an additional 20 years of operation. The reactor is operated as needed for classes, presentations, and research.
The primary mission of the reactor is education, not only of Purdue University students, but of area high school students and the general public as well. The reactor is also available for research projects by University users as well as outside groups.
There are two courses in Nuclear Engineering (one undergraduate and one graduate) that make direct use of the reactor. Specifically, the students operate the reactor and perform experiments to learn reactor physics principles. There is also a third course in the School of Health Science wherein the students calibrate some of the reactor instrumentation and irradiate samples for analysis in their lab course.
The PUR-1 reactor facility also runs a neutron activation analysis class for area high school students under a reactor sharing grant. These students spend the entire day in our lab learning how to use gamma spectrometers, in conjunction with the reactor to produce samples for them to identify. This program has operated for the last fifteen years and has an average of 6-7 high schools with 8-10 students each participating each year. This year, only two weeks after invitations were mailed to teachers, four groups involving fifty students have already responded.
The reactor is also assigned a prominent role in educating the public about nuclear processes. Lecture/tour combinations are offered to student groups, Purdue classes, and the community. This emphasis was increased in the last three years and an average of 800-1000 people toured the facility each of those years. We are currently collaborating with Rush University Medical Center to perform preliminary work on a variation of the Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) method for treating malignant brain tumors.
R.S. Bean and E.C. Merritt
The Reed College Reactor Facility has been used for research and educational projects at public and private high schools, colleges, and universities in northwest Oregon since 1968. Although the main purpose of the reactor is to support Reed College student thesis projects and for faculty research, the largest number of users are from local colleges, universities, and high schools. The Reed College Reactor is a TRIGA Mark I "swimming pool" reactor licensed for 250 kW.
The reactor is primarily used in chemistry and physics courses for instruction, research, and analysis, especially trace-element analysis. In addition to providing student research opportunities, the reactor works to educate the community on the principles of radiation, health physics, nuclear reactors. The reactor has over 1000 visitors every year from area colleges, universities, and high schools.
The reactor is operated almost entirely by undergraduate students who are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This allows students to conduct their own research projects and to be hired by the facility to conduct irradiations for educational organizations, private research organizations, and for industrial applications. A one-year, non-credit seminar is open to all interested parties to prepare them for the licensing examination. Students and faculty from other institutions also attend the seminar. Approximately 6-8 undergraduate students receive NRC licenses every year, and an equal number graduate. At any one time 14-20 students hold an active reactor operator license, which is over one percent of the Reed College student body.
Neutron Activation Analysis has been used at the Reed Reactor Facility in the fields of geology (rock sample analysis), anthropology (tracing trade routes by elemental fingerprinting of sources), medicine (detection of selenium concentrations in internal organs of rats), archeology (age dating), chemistry (identification of contaminants), biology (trace element analysis), forensics (matching powder to guns), and computers (silicon wafer analysis). Autoradiography, gamma irradiation, and other experiments are performed when needed by the students.
The Reed Reactor Facility reactor also provides professional training programs such as our annual Radiation Safety Officer course.
The Rhode Island Nuclear Science Center (RINSC) is located on the Narragansett Bay Campus of the University of Rhode Island. The RINSC research reactor achieved initial criticality in 1964 as a 1 MW, highly enriched uranium fueled reactor. In 1968 the facility underwent a power upgrade to 2 MW, making it one of the highest flux university reactors in the United States. In 1993, RINSC converted from high enriched uranium fuel, to an advanced design low enriched uranium core that has improved the neutron spectrum that it produces.
The reactor was constructed with the intention that it would be utilized by all of the universities in the State of Rhode Island. The oversight commission for the facility has representatives from the University of Rhode Island, Brown University, and Providence College. Historically, RINSC has been used by these universities as an analytical tool for research. Atmospheric Chemists have been using the reactor to help them determine how air pollution migrates around the world. Oceanographers are using the facility to measure trace metal levels in marine tissues and sediments. The university Physics departments have been utilizing neutron beams for studying the atomic layer of oils on substrates, as well as for using neutron scattering to look at internal stresses and defects of materials, and for neutron radiography. Over 100 graduate degrees have been awarded as a result of the reactor being located at URI.
Additionally, the facility has made an effort to bolster public perception of the nuclear energy industry by providing educational tours to schools and civic groups within, and outside the State of Rhode Island. As the state's only nuclear facility, the RINSC staff provides assistance to the State Emergency Management Agency, and to the State Radiation Control Agency on radiological health matters.
RINSC is presently working toward gaining a foothold in the biomedical industry. BNCT is an on going research project that we are attacking from various fronts. We are working in collaboration with Purdue University and Argonne National Laboratory to develop an improved neutron beam filter. Furthermore, we are working with researchers from Brown University, Roger Williams Medical Center, and the Rhode Island Cancer Council to develop a better compound for delivering the active agent that localizes the radiation that kills the cancer cells. BNCT is not the only biomedical application that RINSC is involved in. Our staff is working with a small company that is doing biomedical uptake studies with non-radioactive tracers, which can be collected and analyzed using neutron activation analysis, after the tracers have been excreted from the patient. This appears to be a promising technique for a variety of applications in the pharmaceutical and medical diagnostic industries.
In the near future, RINSC intends to upgrade it's maximum licensed power to 5 MW. We believe that this will enhance our ability to serve the research and education community needs of the future.
Terry Tehan and Michael J. Davis
The Texas A&M University Nuclear Science Center (NSC) is a multi-disciplinary research and education center supporting basic and applied research in nuclear related fields of science and technology as well as providing educational opportunities for students in these fields as a service to the Texas A&M University System and the state of Texas.
The NSC reactor, an 1-MW pool-type TRIGA reactor, is at the heart of the NSC facilities which includes a 2-MW micro-beam accelerator, a 60Co gamma calibration range, a real-time neutron radiography facility, hot cells and manipulators, radiation measurement laboratories, radiochemical laboratories, many HPGe gamma spectroscopy systems, and a variety of instruments for radiation detection and measurement.
The NSC reactor is designed for easy load and unload of various types of samples and is being actively used to produce various kinds of radioisotopes for industry, hospitals, and academic users. The NSC is also nationally recognized for its neutron activation analysis (NAA) services to many research and academic institutions in the western part of the United States. The NSC reactor actively supports the Nuclear Engineering Department on campus, one of the largest nuclear engineering programs in the United States. The NSC reactor is serving approximately 50 nuclear engineering students annually through its teaching and research activities. The NSC reactor has been also successfully used to attract students to nuclear engineering programs by providing introductory tours and part-time jobs. The enrollment of undergraduate nuclear engineering programs (nuclear engineering and radiological health engineering) increased by 65% (from 55 to 91) between academic year 1997-98 and 1998-99. The NSC reactor has become one of the major attractions on campus. Last year alone, the NSC had 2,982 visitors which include elementary, middle, high school, and college students, faculty members, clients, and national laboratory and industrial scientists and engineers. Through these tours, the NSC is emphasizing the importance of nuclear energy in the United States.
With the strong support from the University, the NSC is continuously increasing the diversity of its facilities and services. Recently, the NSC developed a 125Xe irradiation system to produce 125I for medical brachytherapy sources and a Fast Flux Irradiation Device (FFID) to support 39Ar/40Ar dating of geologic samples. The NSC has begun providing gamma irradiation services on a regular basis. The NSC is planning to produce 60Co gamma irradiation sources for food irradiation on campus. Recently, the NSC has built a 2-MW micro-beam accelerator facility for radiation biology study. To accommodate these increased facilities and activities, the NSC has significantly increased its site area.
C.H. Kim and W.D. Reece
The University of Florida Training Reactor (UFTR), first licensed in 1959, was one of the first nuclear reactors on a university campus. Today, in its 41st year of continuous licensed operation, it is one of the oldest but most active mid-size non-power reactors in the United States. The reactor operates at a maximum thermal power level of 100 kilowatts in a loop-type design versus the more familiar pool-type non-power reactor. Plans are currently nearing completion for converting its fuel from high-enriched to low-enriched fuel. Further plans are underway to relicense the facility before the license expires in August 2002.
The UFTR is used within the Nuclear and Radiological Engineering Department at the University of Florida to train students to operate reactors, for laboratory courses for a variety of departments including Physics, Chemistry, Geology, Mechanical Engineering, Anthropology, and Environmental Engineering Sciences, among others, and as a radiation source for various research programs and experiments such as trace element analysis of ocean sediments, river sediments, foods, plants and many other materials. Recent trace element analysis projects utilizing neutron activation analysis include measurements of mercury and arsenic levels in fresh fish, silver in zeolites and contact lens as well as copper, chromium and arsenic in treated wood and wood ash. The facility also has a neutron radiography capability using film cassette technology. Our facilities are also available to other schools at no cost for non-externally funded programs through the Department of Energy Reactor Sharing Program (DOERSP). Under DOERSP, the UFTR has been used to train technologists in medical physics and radiation protection and conduct numerous educational and research activities. External users over the past seven years include more than forty schools located around Florida and the Southeast including Florida State University, Stetson University, Florida Institute of Technology, University of South Florida (Tampa), University of Central Florida, Savannah State University, St. Petersburg and six other community colleges, as well as Crystal River High School, St. Augustine High School, and many other high schools, professional and civic groups. Indeed, we have had more than a dozen regional science fair winners perform research at our analytical laboratory in the last six years, some on projects suggested by teachers, others suggested at the UFTR.
Educational activities are our specialty but over 3,000 faculty, students and others make substantive usage of UFTR facilities each year. We conduct many dozens of tours, demonstrations and laboratory exercises each year, many for middle and high school science students and their teachers. Whenever a teacher, group of teachers, class of students, civic group, or other group is interested in visiting our facility, we are pleased to be of service in conducting such activities to meet any group’s particular needs, with planned length of visit left up to the group to decide. Whether observing a reactor startup or measuring a half-life or trace elements in a hair sample, these groups enjoy their time at the UFTR in an atmosphere conducive to learning. The proof of success is the high rate of return usage for educational users whether on campus or one of the many external users who bring student groups from as far as 200 miles away.
The University of Massachusetts-Lowell Research Reactor (UMLRR) has been serving the university and surrounding community since 1974. The UMLRR is a one-megawatt, steady-state, pool-type reactor. It is one of three facilities within the University of Massachusetts-Lowell Radiation Laboratory, which includes various Co-60 gamma irradiators and a 5.5 MV Van de Graff accelerator.
The principal purpose of the UMLRR is to provide a multidisciplinary facility for use in nuclear-related education and research. Although the main focus of the facility is on intra-university research, use by those outside the university is fully welcomed. Industry partnerships are also highly encouraged. Used by six UML departments and in 13 courses, the UMLRR supports existing degree programs in sciences, engineering, and other disciplines. Its use fosters interdisciplinary academic activity to support faculty and student research. The UMLRR also provides irradiation services benefiting government agencies and industry, and it supports outreach activities for pre-college students that encourage interest in science and engineering careers.
The UMLRR is currently involved with various biomedical research projects including: analytical testing of medical radiation oncology devices for treating cancer, developing optimized radiation doses for routine medical product sterilization, and developing stable-isotope biomedical tracer analytical techniques for research and diagnostics.
Radiation induced cross-linked polymers are being studied for medical applications in tissue engineering and improved prostheses. Various radiation effects research projects include: radiation induced materials enhancement for commercial and military applications, radiation resistant electronics testing for commercial, military, and NASA applications, and the development and testing of spent nuclear fuel storage shipment materials for corporations serving the U.S. and international nuclear power industries.
One of the most successful endeavors at the UMLRR is the Reactor Sharing Program sponsored by the Department of Energy. This program, which started at the University in l985, has become extremely popular with area schools, grades 7 through 12. The goal of this program is two-fold: to motivate pre-college students into developing an interest in the sciences, and to promote an understanding of nuclear energy issues while expanding learning opportunities. The program is comprehensive in that it includes lectures, hands-on experiments and tours of the UMLRR. Students and teachers may also participate via interactive two-way cable and satellite television. The lectures cover topics on environmental radiation, the uses of radiation in medicine, and the potential of nuclear energy.
Leo M. Bobek
The Ford Nuclear Reactor (FNR) is administered through the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project, a World War II memorial dedicated to the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology for the benefit of humanity. In support of that mission, the FNR operates as a regional center for nuclear research and education, and fosters utilization of the facility by a broad range of academic, industrial, and government institutions.
The FNR is a 2 MW open-pool MTR-type research reactor that produces a peak thermal flux of approximately 2x1013 n/cm2/s. The FNR achieved initial criticality in 1957; in 1981 it served as the whole-core demonstration facility for low-enrichment uranium research reactor fuel. The FNR currently operates on a schedule of ten days at full power followed by four days of shutdown and maintenance, averaging 120 hours of operation per week.
The strength of our program is the accessibility of the reactor core for flexible in-core and in-pool experiments, coupled with our prolonged, full-power duty cycle. This makes the FNR the reactor of choice for material damage studies involving accelerated neutron aging. The FNR currently hosts two major research projects focused on the integrity of light-water reactor (LWR) pressure vessel materials. The first involves the joint efforts of the U.S. NRC, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Mechanical and Environ-mental Engineering Department of the University of California at Santa Barbara to examine the fundamental mechanisms behind atom displacement damage caused by fast neutron interactions and the resulting degradation in the mechanical properties of iron alloys. The related Heavy-Section Steel Irradiation Program, also sponsored by the NRC, investigates irradiation-induced embrittlement in actual reactor pressure vessel materials. Both programs address a major re-licensing issue facing currently operating LWRs: Can we ensure the integrity of existing pressure vessels such that they could be relied upon to safely operate an additional ten years or more beyond their current licensed lifetime?
The FNR participates in numerous other education and research programs that extend our service well beyond the University of Michigan. Academic service activities at the reactor include neutron activation analysis (NAA); radioisotope production; beam extraction experiments such as neutron radiography and neutron scattering; and teaching and laboratory experiments related to reactor physics, radiation safety, and materials analysis. Over the past decade, the FNR has irradiated more than 32,000 samples for NAA, supporting researchers at nearly a hundred universities and colleges in the U.S. Similarly, the FNR offers one of the best facilities in the world for the irradiation of rock and mineral samples for 39Ar/40Ar age dating. The reactor facilities also are used for a large number of university-level research projects and formal courses during the year, and by local high schools and middle schools for basic science education. During 1998-1999, more than 500 high school and middle school students visited the FNR, including classes in advanced chemistry and physics. Over that interval, the FNR supported research leading to 33 B.S., 16 M.S., and 24 Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Engineering, and contributed to nearly 80 advanced degrees in other disciplines.
John C. Lee, Director
The University of Missouri Research Reactor Center (MURR) is a multi-disciplinary research, development and education center operated by the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU). With its first start-up on October 13, 1966, the reactor has been in operation for more than 30 years. A 100% power upgrade in 1974 and a more than 50% increase in operating hours in 1977 allow the reactor to maintain a 150+ hours per week schedule. The 10 megawatt light water moderated reactor is versatile and compact in design, and its enviable operating record allows multiple irradiations and experiments virtually around the clock. It leads the nation in university research reactors. The University continues to look forward with a firm commitment to renew and relicense MURR, whose original NRC license expires in November 2001. The entire renewal and relicensing program, anticipated to last four years, will ensure that MURR is safe, operational and reliable for another 20 years. The total cost of the program is estimated at $8 to $9 million based on a professional engineering firm’s estimate.
The Center’s fundamental mission is to provide quality service to MU, to Missouri and to humanity within two major arenas—service to the R&D Community and service to the Global Community. The focus is on interdisciplinary R&D programs, centered largely in partnering MU departments, other universities, federal and industrial labs—programs that could not be conducted without the unique MURR facilities and personnel. The Center thus provides leverage for the expertise and talents resident in other departments and institutions, and a high priority is given to collaborative research programs in the life sciences, particularly those with potential to lead to breakthroughs in healthcare.
The University has the distinction of being the only university in the world to have commercialized three radiopharmaceuticals. MURR Center researchers and their collaborators have developed, patented and commercialized Quadramet®, a therapeutic radiopharmaceutical designed to relieve the pain associated with metastatic bone cancer, (US-approved); Ceretec™, the first radiopharmaceutical to image the brain effectively (US-approved for the diagnosis and assessment of stroke victims); and TheraSphere™ for the treatment of liver cancer (approved in Canada and pending FDA approval in the US). MU is poised to play a significant role in the development of new medical technologies and direct a national cancer research initiative with its unique collection of resources: the MURR Center; School of Medicine and its Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital; College of Veterinary Medicine; and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and neighboring Harry S Truman Veterans Administration Hospital.
The Center’s focus on interdisciplinary R&D also contributes to MU’s educational mission, providing rich research and training opportunities for an international population of graduate and undergraduate students. MURR-based projects cover such disciplines as anthropology and archaeology, chemistry, engineering (chemical, electrical, mechanical and nuclear), geology, materials science, medical and life sciences (including cancer diagnostics, treatment and prevention), nutrition, physics and veterinary medicine. MURR annually supports research of approximately 400 faculty and 150 graduate students representing more than 180 departments from more than 100 international universities and some 40 federal and industrial labs. In a recent five-year period, students conducting thesis research at MURR earned 51 doctoral, 36 master and 3 bachelor degrees. Of these 90 students, 14 were from a slate of universities that includes Harvard, Michigan, Purdue, Tulane, Vanderbilt and Washington, and Berlin’s Freien Universitat.
Since 1980 the US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded an annual Reactor Sharing grant to the Center to make its reactor capabilities available to other educational institutions—overall more than $1.29 million, a considerable outreach effort. MURR is grateful to DOE for the long-standing support it has given. Last year’s grant award supported the research of 60 faculty and staff and 22 students from 21 institutions. Over the years, the Reactor Sharing program has afforded neutron-based research to hundreds of faculty and students at dozens of US universities and colleges. For most, this nuclear research would not have been possible without this DOE/MURR outreach program.
A similar outreach effort is the Center’s Archaeometry Lab, continuously funded since 1988 (nearly $1.29M) by the National Science Foundation (NSF). MURR’s sensitive neutron activation analysis capabilities can characterize more than 30 trace elements in a variety of specimens. These data are used by the archaeologist to determine the origin of artifacts; by the geologist to investigate natural processes that created different types of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks; and by environmental scientists to monitor the movement of toxic chemicals in soil and water. This program supports dozens of faculty and staff projects annually, and has funded a steady stream of graduate student internships.
A second NSF-funded effort is the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, expressly designed to excite college undergrads to enroll in graduate school. Since 1989, MURR has drawn top national applicants, matching their backgrounds and scientific interests with MU and MURR faculty mentors. The students define and conduct reactor-based projects under their guidance, attend and participate in multidisciplinary seminars, and conclude their summer experience with a formal presentation. Additional NSF funds created a Science/Media interface to bridge the growing gap between science and technology and the general public. MU Journalism students provide a peer level exchange of viewpoints, goals, attitudes and ideas, shadowing their REU peers, learning the lingo and lay of the labs, and extracting interesting, scientific stories that ordinary folks can understand. In turn, their more science and engineering-minded peers are helped to realize the critical importance of communicating with a more general audience.
In summary, the MURR Center’s broad capabilities for nuclear-based research, including a research staff and technical support that can nurture a project from inception to practical application, afford a singular leverage not only to the University’s R&D and educational efforts, but to those of the nation and beyond.
Ed Deutsch, Director and Charles J. McKibben
The University of Missouri-Rolla Reactor Facility is operated as a university facility, available to the faculty and students from various departments of the university for their educational and research programs. The Reactor facility strongly supports the Nuclear Engineering undergraduate, graduate and doctorate programs. Several other college and pre-college institutions use the facility for research, training and introduction to nuclear technology. The University of Missouri-Rolla Reactor Facility (UMRR) attained initial criticality on December 9th, 1961.
The UMRR was the first operation nuclear reactor in the state of Missouri. The initial licensed power was 10 kW. The licensed power was upgraded to 200 kW in 1966. During the summer of 1992, the reactor fuel was converted from high-enriched uranium fuel to low-enriched uranium. The facility is equipped with several experimental facilities and a counting laboratory that has gamma and alpha spectroscopy capabilities. The gamma spectroscopy system includes germanium and sodium-iodide detectors, associated electronics, and state-of-the art data acquisitions and spectrum analysis software. The alpha spectroscopy system consists of a surface barrier detector and data acquisition equipment. The beam-port experimental area is equipped with NE-213 and time-of flight neutron spectroscopy systems.
An average of more than 900 students from 40 different institutions participate in the Reactor Sharing Program at UMR. Ours is a model program that directly meets DOE objectives of strengthening nuclear science and engineering instruction, as well as providing research opportunities for faculty and students from non-reactor owning universities. Typical Reactor Sharing session topics include: Radioisotope decay and Half-Life Determination, Neutron Activation Analysis, Reactor Systems and Operations, Radiation Shielding and Reactor Experiments. The UMRR also provide one-on-one individual science project research. Several high school students perform individual science fair projects every year at the UMRR facility.
Nuclear Engineering students have performed graduate level research on genetic algorithm unfolding, thermal power calibration, neutron spectroscopy and safety analyses of the UMR Reactor within the last two years. Nuclear Engineering (NE) utilize the facility for full time courses in the undergraduate program. Other departments using the UMRR include Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Life Science, Civil Engineering, Basic Engineering and Engineering Management. The University of Missouri-Columbia has training for reactor theory and reactor operations with a graduate class at the UMR Reactor Facility annually. This training is a condensed version of one of the UMR NE classes. The UMRR Facility provides training for power plant reactor operators from within the state of Missouri.
The University of New Mexico's AGN-201M reactor was used for some research during the 1998-1999. This was a continuation of the research from the previous year and involved subcritical multiplication and die-away measurements at power level below 1 microWatt.
The AGN-201M Reactor Facility is an essential part of our educational program, including public education, and continues to serve us well. The use of the reactor from July of 1998 through June of 1999 was as follows:
Type of Use
FY98 – 99 Hours
Graduate Student Research
Maintenance and Equipment Check
Operator Training and Requalification
Totals for the Year
There were 10 undergraduate and 2 graduate students involved in reactor operations during the reporting period.
The University of New Mexico's AGN-201M reactor continues to be used extensively for teaching experiments as a part of our undergraduate and graduate programs. These experiments include approach-to-critical, reactor period and reactivity measurements, importance functions measurements, sample activation, control rod calibrations, and reactor power and neutron fluence measurements. With its minimal operating cost, the UNM AGN-201M reactor is the perfect educational tool for our undergraduate program and continues to play a major role in our seniors' educational experience.
The Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory (NETL) reactor is a Mark-II TRIGA® research reactor licensed for a power level of 1.1 Mw. The facility was dedicated in 1986 with the reactor first attaining criticality in 1992. The facility usage has increased gradually as more users become aware of the new facility. The NETL and the Nuclear Engineering Program are part of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Two facilities that make the NETL unique are the operational cold neutron source and the reactor-based slow positron beam currently under construction.
A grant from the Texas Advanced Technology Program provided the initial funding for the construction and testing of the cold neutron facility (TCNS). Low energy, or cold, neutrons exhibit wave characteristics that allow them to be "bent" or reflected by neutron guides to areas that have a lower radiation background.
This increases the sensitivity of in-beam analyses and provides a relatively intense source of low energy neutrons for physics experiments. Future proposed experiments include cold neutron collection and cold neutron localization. A Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (PGAA) system was installed to take advantage of the TCNS and the low neutron background of the source. PGAA detects the gamma rays emitted when neutrons are absorbed in atomic nuclei. The technique is multi-elemental and non-destructive with high sensitivity. The technique is typically used for the detection of hydrogen and boron in metals and alloys.
A collaborative effort between the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Austin and funded by the Texas Advanced Technology Program has resulted in one of the few intense, variable energy positron beam facilities in the world. The positrons are produced by the radioactive decay of Copper-64 previously irradiated in the NETL reactor and then moderated by slowing down in solid (frozen) Krypton. Theoretical intensities of 108 positrons per second are expected with a continuous energy range from 1 to 50 keV. The positron equipment was initially tested in Arlington, Texas and was transferred and installed at the NETL in 1999. The facility is currently in the final construction and testing phase. Plans for the facility include research in fundamental positron physics and the detection of defects and voids in silicon and advanced materials.
Bernard W. Wehring and Sean O’Kelly
The University of Wisconsin Nuclear Reactor Laboratory was established as a teaching laboratory for the Engineering Physics Department. The laboratory is dedicated to supporting the use of the nuclear reactor for instruction, research and industrial service applications.
Instructional support is provided to the department as an integral part of the Nuclear Engineering & Engineering Physics curriculum in the areas of instrumentation and reactor physics. In addition to instruction for students from the department, students from a number of other educational institutions use the facilities under the sponsorship of the U. S. Department of Energy Reactor Sharing Program. Such use has ranged from individual laboratory sessions to semester-long laboratories on selected topics. Classes from user institutions have come to our campus for demonstrations of reactor operating characteristics and laboratory sessions on neutron activation analysis (NAA). Other institutions have selected one or more of our department laboratory sessions on nuclear instrumentation or reactor physics. Still others have elected specific laboratory experiences with high-resolution gamma ray spectroscopy or neutron counting instruments. For those groups not able to visit our facility, we have also irradiated and/or counted samples and provided them with resulting spectra that can be viewed with a program to analyze spectra for peak centroid energies and count-rates of all peaks. Finally, we can loan a computer program that will allow remote (internet or modem) access to one of our computer-based multichannel analyzers, allowing students in PC equipped labs to remotely view, manipulate, and analyze spectra.
Research activities include radioisotope production and irradiation of materials for various material property effects. Irradiations may be performed with neutrons or gamma rays from the shutdown reactor core. Most of our previous research has involved sample analysis by use of neutron activation analysis of materials. NAA has been used on a wide variety of materials, ranging from archeological samples to waste materials. In addition, a neutron radiography facility, which has the capability for imaging internal details of operating systems, has been developed, and is available for users outside the department.
The Reactor Laboratory is also available to provide services to industrial users. These services include training, irradiations, radioisotope production, neutron radiography and neutron activation analysis. A Research Reactor Training program was developed, and has been used by electric utilities from several states as part of training programs for reactor operators, senior reactor operators, and shift technical advisors.
Support services are also provided to educational institutions. The laboratory maintains calibrated counters for wipe and leak tests, and can provide "leak test kits" to external customers, which are used and returned for counting. We can also provide loans of radiation survey equipment or a Geiger-Mueller counter and software that will allow a PC to serve as a counter and recorder.
Robert J. Agasie
The Nuclear Radiation Center at Washington State University is an all-university and regional facility to provide nuclear related educational and research programs. The Center houses a 1,000 kW TRIGA-type pool reactor capable of pulsed and steady-state operation at a variety of pool locations. Reactor irradiation can take place inside several independent experimental tubes, in beam tubes, and in the pool itself.
Washington State University has made a recent (1999) major investment in renovating and upgrading the reactor. The improvements include replacement of reactor pool liner with new epoxy coating to correct leaks, replacement of the reactor’s cooling tower and heat exchanger, replacement of the thermal column with epithermal neutron filter, and construction of a treatment room for Boron Neutron Capture (BNC) research. Total funding from both WSU and USDOE for these projects exceeded $750,000.
In addition to numerous projects throughout the Pacific Northwest, three new major research programs have begun at the Center. These are as follows:
United States Transuranium and Uranium Registries (USTUR): The program includes the measurement of plutonium and other actinide elements in human tissues from deceased workers at U.S. nuclear fuel production and processing facilities, including Hanford. It is a joint project to evaluate health effects of plutonium and other exposures with WSU TriCities, the WSU Nuclear Radiation Center, College of Pharmacy, and the Department of Chemistry. It is funded by the USDOE.
Respiratory Health Effects and Toxic Metals in Air Particulates in Spokane: The project will include the measurement of toxic trace elements by neutron activation analysis together with other analytical data and relationship to respiratory outcomes. The joint project is with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Department of Chemistry, the WSU Nuclear Radiation Center, and the University of Washington. It is funded by the Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxics Research Center.
Boron Neutron Capture Facility: The WSU reactor has unique characteristics, which made it very suitable for BNC research, a new cancer treatment, particularly for brain cancers. An experimental treatment facility is being built for animal studies. It is a joint project with the WSU Nuclear Radiation Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine. It is funded by the USDOE.
Washington State University was one of only three US universities to receive a major grant from the USDOE to upgrade radiochemistry facilities in the Department of Chemistry and the Nuclear Radiation Center and to hire a new faculty member in the Department of Chemistry.
The WPI Nuclear Reactor Facility first began operations in 1959 primarily as a tool for nuclear engineering education. Since then, it has been used to train two generations of nuclear engineers and scientists for the nuclear industry. Today, WPI continues to be committed to continuing its mission of training future nuclear engineers and scientists. The facility provides a hands on approach to teaching by encouraging student utilization of each facet of the reactor, its control systems, experimental facilities, and laboratory equipment. This type of complete access to a working nuclear reactor is unique for an undergraduate nuclear engineering program.
The open pool reactor is licensed for a maximum thermal output of 10 kW, which allows a maximum thermal neutron flux of about 1x10E11 nv, and is designed such that the core is readily accessible. Facility equipment includes a beam port for neutron beam experiments including neutron radiography, a graphite thermal column for neutron diffusion studies, two germanium semiconductor detector systems for spectrometry studies including neutron activation analysis, and an array of sodium iodide scintillation and Geiger detector systems for various laboratory exercises. Both the control console and the peripheral laboratory equipment used for student projects and laboratory exercises are located in the reactor room.
Nuclear Engineering at WPI is an undergraduate program under the Mechanical Engineering department. Seven nuclear engineering courses and project opportunities are offered for students of all disciplines. The available courses include basic nuclear concepts, radiological safety, reactor theory, and nuclear waste disposal. Laboratory experience accompanies most of these courses in addition to a separate nuclear engineering laboratory course. Participation in elements of the program is strongly interdisciplinary. The nuclear engineering courses compliment several other programs at WPI, including; physics, chemistry, biotechnology, electrical engineering, and civil engineering. WPI also places a strong emphasis on project work, and the reactor facility has been a focal point for much project work in the nuclear area. Faculties from other departments make use of the facility, as well as several from other colleges in the area, who routinely utilize the facility under the Reactor Sharing Program.
The Reactor Sharing Program has evolved such that it provides intensive, extended use to a few users, rather than quick and limited use to many users. A number of institutions have made use of the WPI Reactor under the Reactor Sharing Program. And, as has been the case for many years, tours, demonstrations, and presentations have been made to several area pre-college students. The facility staff recognizes the need to interest school children, and their teachers, in the nuclear sciences. A concerted effort is made to reach out to area high schools and elementary grade students. In the past, we have participated in presentations and demonstrations on nuclear radiation properties and biological effects to students at several high schools in the Massachusetts area.
S. J. LaFlamme