Research Reactor

The NRL features The Ohio State University Research Reactor (OSURR), a pool‑type reactor with multiple beam ports and dry tubes as irradiation facilities, that is utilized for a variety of instructional, research, and service activities. It is licensed to operate at thermal powers up to a maximum of 500 kilowatts, and at this maximum steady‑state power, the maximum thermal neutron flux in the central irradiation facility is approximately 1.7x1013 n/cm2/s.

The OSURR, a Materials Testing Reactor (MTR), is a unique asset to nuclear engineering research and education at the university and in the State of Ohio, and it is utilized for instructional, research, and service activities. It has multiple vertical dry tubes and beam ports that serve as irradiation facilities, and the reactor is licensed to operate at thermal powers (no electricity is produced) up to a maximum of 500 kilowatts. At the maximum power, the neutron flux in the available irradiation dry tubes are on the order of 1012-1013 n/cm2/s.

The OSURR is used for a wide range of nuclear-related research endeavors, including evaluation of material elemental constituents using neutron activation analysis (NAA) and neutron depth profiling (NDP); evaluation of radiation damage to electronic components and other materials, such as optical fibers and optical fiber-based sensors; evaluation of neutron and gamma-ray radiation sensitive detector performance; isotope production; and biomedical experiments.  

View of reactor pool from above
View of reactor pool from above

The OSURR is not constrained by a fixed duty-cycle, allowing great flexibility in scheduling research and education activities. The reactor has multiple irradiation locations that allow instrumented experiments, enabling in-situ experiment measurements and real-time monitoring during irradiations. The non-fixed duty cycle enables researchers to perform experiments utilizing varying reactor power levels and even power transients. 

Example temperature and reactor power profile for high-temperature experiment
Example temperature and reactor power profile for high-temperature experiment








A summary table listing the neutron fluxes and dose rates in the various OSURR facilities can be found here. Referenced memos are available upon request to


Experimental Facilities Converge at the Reactor Core

A number of experimental facilities converge at the reactor core, which allows simultaneous performance of multiple experiments. These facilities include: 

CIF vertical dry tube 
AIF vertical dry tube
Moveable vertical dry tubes 
Beam facility 
Pneumatic Transport System (PTS) / Rabbit Facility 
Thermal column


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 glowing reactor