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ISU selected for second experiment at INL nuclear facility

Idaho State University has been selected to participate with the Idaho National Laboratory for a second nuclear energy experiment.

University officials said that the one-of-a-kind opportunity helps boost ISU’s nuclear engineering department’s reputation.

George Imel

George Imel

“We are part of a small group in the country that has been awarded two experiments at the INL’s Advanced Test Reactor facility,” said George Imel, ISU chair of nuclear engineering.

Idaho State University is one of only three universities in the nation to have been selected to do two experiments at the ATR facility in a nationally competitive research program. The number of universities conducting nuclear energy experiments in Idaho National Laboratory’s research reactor has now reached an even dozen, and it’s completing 15 total experiments.

Imel is ISU’s principal investigator for both projects.

This year, Idaho State University was selected to complete an experiment titled “Measurement of Actinide Cross Sections.” This project could receive up to $225,000 in funding over the next three years. In September 2009, ISU’s “Real Time ATR-C Flux Sensors” experiment was funded for $225,000 for a three-year period.

The latest Idaho State University ATR project is a joint venture between ISU, the INL and Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. The goal of the experiment is to develop new monitoring conditions during radiation testing to measure extremely small quantities of fission products. The results will be used to validate computer models that predict larger-scale nuclear waste treatment inside of reactors.

For the project awarded last fall, ISU researchers including Imel and physicist Jason Harris will work with collaborators from INL and France’s Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique to evaluate neutron detectors and other instruments that monitor nuclear reactor cores. These experiments will be conducted in the INL’s Advance Test Reactor Critical, a low-powered mockup of the ATR.

Other universities selected to conduct INL ATR experiments include the University of California, Berkeley, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Colorado School of Mines, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, the University of California-Santa Barbara (two projects), the University of Florida, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (two projects) and Utah State University.

INL is one of the DOE’s 10 multiprogram national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is one of the nation’s leading centers for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory are the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.


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