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The Ohio State University Nuclear Reactor Laboratory (NRL) offers a number of irradiation capabilities, including the unique capability of reactor irradiations in external large-experiment dry tubes using the OSU Research Reactor (RR). In the next-to-core position in which either a 6.5 inch I.D. or a 9.5 inch I.D. external dry tube can be located, irradiations can be performed in a neutron flux up to ≈1012 n/cm2/s. Among the possibilities for use are experiments involving instrumented, high-temperature irradiations of prototype instrumentation for next-generation reactors, sensors and sensor materials, and optical fibers designed for up to 1600 °C. In addition to the external large-experiment dry tubes, the reactor also has two 2.5 inch I.D. in-core dry tubes that support instrumented experiments, but at ambient temperature.
The NRL has a pool-top workbench and another adjacent work surface where experimenters can set up equipment to support their instrumented experiment at a convenient location without running long wires. Experimenters can design and use their own test rigs for use in the dry tubes (per a successful safety review), and they can operate their own equipment for controlling and monitoring their experiments. Finally, the NRL does not have a fixed operations cycle, which allows for great flexibility in designing experiments with different power levels and even power transients (not including pulsing). Previous experiments have involved multiple stepped reactor powers and multiple experiment temperatures, and the flexibility in operations, experiment size and design, and monitoring makes the NRL reactor a valuable resource for many types of experiments, including testing of potential instrumentation for next-generation reactors. Numerous phase-1 level experiments have successfully utilized RR large external irradiation dry tubes for performing high-temperature, instrumented experiments.
To complement these reactor capabilities, the NRL has a Co-60 irradiator that presently has a dose rate in the range of 10-20 krad/hr in silicon and that is capable of being upgraded to Mrad/hr-level dose rate. The NRL is part of a nationally recognized research institution that holds a broad-scope radioactive materials license that allows for a wide range of radioactive materials in various forms. The NRL has four experienced staff members, of which three are senior reactor operators for the RR. The staff can assist with design of experiments that safely meet the experimenter's needs, and they also perform experiment installation and removal, safety review, and necessary radiation safety functions, including use of gamma ray spectroscopy to characterize post-irradiation activity in experiments and preparing Limited Quantity packages for shipment.
The laboratory is centrally located within Ohio, making it very accessible to all institutions in the state. In addition, Columbus is home to an international airport, making the NRL very accessible to out-of-state users.