Research at the MIT NRL

The NRL has supported and contributed to many research projects through the years, such as closed-loop digital control of spacecraft and terrestrial reactors; boron neutron capture therapy for the treatment of cancer; material studies for the next generation of reactors; neutron activation analysis used for the study of environmental contaminants; and the investigation of nanofluids for nuclear applications.

The NRL has one of the strongest nuclear materials and in-core research programs in the country, supporting studies in the areas of advanced nuclear fuel and materials which are necessary for both existing and advanced power reactors. With rekindled national interest on the part of DOE and the nuclear industry in building the next-generation of nuclear power systems, many using novel materials and advanced forms of fuels, facilities such as the MITR-II are needed to test material and fuel behavior in a variety of radiation environments.

The MITR-II is arguably the best-suited university reactor for carrying out such studies because of its relatively high-power density (similar to a light water reactor), the capability to control chemistry and thermal conditions to reflect prototypic conditions, its easy-access geometric configuration, and space for up to three independent in-core irradiation tests.

Research and service areas supported by the MITR-II include:

  • Infrastructure to support the US initiative for designing and building the next generation of nuclear reactors as a means of reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels
  • Advanced materials and fuel research
  • Trace element analysis, isotope production, and irradiation services
  • Neutron transmutation doping of silicon
  • Neutron scattering
  • Conversion of the reactor to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) fuel. Actual conversion of the MITR awaits successful safety testing and qualification of the fuel.

Funding opportunities

MIT-NRL investigators welcome the opportunity to collaborate with researchers interested in pursuing NEUP and DOE STTR and SBIR initiatives. If interested, please contact us.

Nuclear Science User Facilities Call for Proposals

Prospective users seeking cost-free access to the MITR's experimental facilities are encouraged to submit proposals to the National Science User Facilities (NSUF). The MITR is a partner facility of the NSUF. If the proposal is selected and if it is determined the project is suitable to be conducted utilizing the MITR, cost-free access will be granted with on-site technical assistance. NSUF's proposal solicitation information can be found here.