NRL receives four DOE project awards
Taylor Tracy, NRL
July 13, 2020
The Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded four projects utilizing the MIT Research Reactor (MITR).
- Flexible Siting Criteria and Staff Minimization for Micro-Reactors
This research will establish required criteria to determine if a given densely-populated location is suitable for micro-reactor deployment. The development of this criteria will compare the MITR’s characteristics to leading micro-reactor concepts for determining how the MITR’s design and research reactor regulations might apply to micro-reactors. Research will also include a model minimizing micro-reactor staffing requirements from an operational perspective.
- University Research Reactor Upgrades Infrastructure Support for the MIT Research Reactor’s Normal and Emergency Electrical Power Supply Systems
This infrastructure project will upgrade the backup electrical power source for running instrumentation and emergency lighting in the MITR containment building in the event of a power outage. The upgraded backup power supply will be more robust and easier to maintain, with shorter start-up time and the ability to provide post-shutdown power for at least eight hours. This eases preparations for loss of external power, with quick recovery time once power is restored. Additional upgrades will improve the reliability of the MITR’s two motor control centers (MCCs), which provide normal electrical power to the reactor’s main cooling pumps, building isolation equipment, instrumentation, and other necessary operational and safety equipment. This will also increase the safety of personnel working directly with the MCCs.
- Molten Salt Reactor Test Bed with Neutron Irradiation
The largest loop facility in the U.S., housing two flowing liquid salt loops, will be built at the MITR to contribute to the advancement of molten salt reactor technology. The loops will provide researchers with an understanding of byproducts in a molten salt reactor, test instrumentation, and serve as a prototype for other university loop studies and DOE test reactors. This research will use both a non-irradiated and irradiated flowing salt loop to examine the behavior of fission byproducts, especially ones that do not stay dissolved in the salt. These byproducts in particular will deposit themselves on surfaces within the loop, or separate from the liquid salt as gaseous byproducts. Understanding how these byproducts affect the loops will give valuable insights for molten salt reactor designs.
- Demonstration of Self-Powered Neutron Detectors Performance and Reliability
Researchers will test self-powered neutron sensors in the MITR’s pressurized water loop facility. These sensors (powered by an electrical current generated by gamma rays interacting inside of them) are initially being developed for future applications at the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Labs. They will measure the neutron flux at the location of each sensor inside an experiment assembly, as opposed to the average neutron flux level of the reactor. This will allow for increased accurate real-time data of the amount of neutrons an experiment is exposed to in any of the ATR’s experiment positions.