Co-60 Irradiator Experiments

The cost of the experiment will depend upon the desired total dose and on the amount of staff involvement.  There are hourly usage rates for the irradiator and for staff time.  Staff time is used for completing any necessary safety analysis, experiment installation(s) and removal(s), etc.

Cobalt irradiators vary widely in design. Not every irradiation can be performed at our facility. Please note the following considerations:

(1) What total dose do you need? Our current max dose rate can be seen here. Note that if your project requires megarads, our facility may not be a good fit.

(2) Will the samples physically fit in our irradiation space? We have a 6" access tube. The max diameter is ~4", and the peak dose rate is only a couple inches in height. If you are looking to irradiate gallons of milk, they will not fit. Tall samples that do fit will get more dose in the middle than on the ends. If you have a large number of samples, you may need to plan for multiple irradiations, given the size of the sample space.

(3) Are these samples hazardous in any way? Our lab has a campus permit for radioactive materials (obviously), but we are not trained to handle biological hazards.

(4) Do your samples require any environmental control? Our irradiator is located in the reactor bay, which has minimal heat in the winter and no A/C in the summer.

Miscellaneous Notes

The depth of the pool is 15'8" and it is about 16' from the top of the irradiation facility to the bottom.  Any cabling that is run from the experiment to the equipment should be ~20-25' in length.  Equipment will be set up on the west side of the BSF pool. There is a board on the pool grates that can be used for experiment equipment. The board is 4'x6', but more space can be allocated if needed and arranged with NRL staff.

Irradiating with gamma rays does not make a sample radioactive, so the sample will be returned to you following the experiment.

Dosimetry can be added to the experiment for an additional charge.

With RG 58 coax cable, a maximum of three cables would fit through the cableways in the shielding plug.  However, if RG 316 coax cable were used, there would be room for quite a few of those in the cableways (6 - 8?).

If tape is needed for an experiment, we have found Kapton (polyimide) tape to be the best choice.


Co-60 elevator
Co-60 elevator


The NRL website and user guide serve as an introduction for prospective experimenters interested in performing irradiation research in the OSURR. These pages contain brief descriptions of the facility and its experiment capabilities, the ancillary capabilities of the NRL to support development of irradiation and post-irradiation examination (PIE) experiments, the process for users to follow to conduct an experiment, and the conditions that apply to experimenters. These resource pages do not provide all the necessary information required to perform an experiment in the OSURR, but they serve as a guide for concept development and initial experiment planning. The experienced team of NRL researchers works with users to design experiments that meet the users’ research needs while ensuring that the experiments comply with all safety requirements.

picture of reactor glowing