Post Irradiation Examination

Post Irradiation Examination

Post-Irradiation Examination (PIE) Facilities

Handling Facilities and Hot Cells

The reactor containment building is equipped with an overhead polar crane with 20-ton and 3-ton hooks. These cranes are used for installations and removals of in-core and other experiments. A variety of shielded transfer casks are also available for transfers. There are two hot cells in the reactor hall. The larger cell is generally used for handling and disassembly of full-height in-core experiments. This cell is accessible for installation of custom fixturing required for particular experiments. The smaller cell has been used to handle small, high activity components and fuel from in-core experiments. A collimated gamma scan facility can be installed in the small cell. The reactor spent fuel pool is also available for storage, handling and packaging of irradiated experiments. Shipping casks up to the GE2000 can be loaded dry or wet.


Experiment disassembly in MITR
Experiment disassembly in MITR


Water loop experiment in transport cask; Hot Cell
Left to right: Water loop experiment in transport cask; Hot Cell


Hot Sample Preparation Facilities

Laboratory space is available within the reactor exclusion area (outside the containment building) with two standard fume hoods, a hood with a perchloric acid scrubber, and an inert-atmosphere 4-port glove box with furnace. A ventilated hot box with manipulators is located in this laboratory and is available for specialized PIE activities requiring more shielding than can be installed in the fume hoods. Standard metallurgical sample preparation (epoxy mounting, sectioning, and polishing) can be carried out on activated samples. Macro-photography, optical microscopy, and optical profilometry of irradiated specimens are also available. Other equipment available for use with radioactive materials includes a xenon-flash thermal diffusivity instrument, HPGe gamma spectrometers, a liquid scintillation counter, and gaseous 3H and 14C collection and measurement instruments.


Helium-filled glove box with high-temperature furnace
Helium-filled glove box with high-temperature furnace


Electron Microscopy Facilities

Although there are no electron microscopes within the reactor containment or exclusion area, however non-dedicated facilities at MIT can be used for microscopy of radioactive samples. The instruments available in the MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering Central Facility are described here. Use of these facilities for irradiated materials is subject to dose limits and approvals from MIT’s Radiation Protection Office. In some cases, dedicated sample holders may be required to reduce the probability of contamination of shared equipment.