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About The Ohio State University Nuclear Reactor Laboratory

The Ohio State University Nuclear Reactor Laboratory (NRL) was built in 1960 and the Research Reactor (RR) first went critical in 1961.  It was originally a 10-kW training reactor that utilized high-enriched uranium (HEU) solid plate fuel.

The design of the RR is based on the Bulk Shielding Reactor (BSR), which was located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This reactor is in a class of reactors generally known as a Materials Testing Reactor (MTR). This class of reactors share various common features, such as light water moderation and cooling, open pools, and plate-type fuel. The reactor itself was supplied by Lockheed Nuclear Products, then a division of the Lockheed Georgia Company. Lockheed operated a reactor very similar in design to the RR, at a power level of 1 megawatt steady-state thermal power, in a forced convection cooling mode. When operated in the natural convection cooling mode at power levels up to 10 kilowatts, the Lockheed reactor was essentially identical in operating characteristics to the RR for the first 25 years of operation.

In the 1980s, analyses were performed to move from HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.  Analyses were also done to support an increase in the reactor power.  The fuel conversion from HEU to LEU was completed in 1988.  The power uprate to 500 kW was approved by the NRC in 1992.

At present, the university's RR is the only operating research reactor in the State of Ohio.  The RR is licensed to 500 kW, utilizes LEU solid plate fuel, and has multiple vertical dry-tubes in which experiments can be placed.  Neutron fluxes in the various irradiation facilities are in the range of 1012-1013 n/cm2/s at full power.  There is also a beam facility with a thermal flux ~106 n/cm2/s.

The mission of the NRL is to serve as a premier nuclear radiation user facility for students, faculty, and external researchers while supporting the efforts of excellence in student instruction and research opportunities in nuclear science and engineering; to serve as a unique teaching facility for nuclear engineering education, outreach, and community engagement; and to remain a vital technical and physical asset to sustaining and growing irradiation service and applications in materials, medicine, manufacturing, and nuclear technology-related industries in Ohio, within the Midwest, and the Nation.