A Fast Neutron Source using a Superconducting Electron Linac for Materials Testing
Next generation reactor concepts cater to a common goal of providing safer, longer lasting and economically viable nuclear power plants. Developing radiation damage resistant materials for both in- core and out-of core applications is a critical component of these next generation power plants. Testing these novel materials requires an intense neutron environment. A commonly used tool for testing novel materials is a high flux fast neutron environment. Evaporation, fission-like spectrum neutrons are currently generated at either a nuclear reactor or a national laboratory scale accelerator such as the proposed Material Test Station at Los Alamos National Lab (a 800 MeV proton beam). However, there are currently no fast-neutron reactors in the United States, and MTS will not be operational before 2015 (at the earliest). These restrictions require researchers to ship samples overseas (e.g.: France). We propose a convenient and low-cost alternative: an intense source of fast fission-spectrum neutrons produced from a superconducting electron linac. The proposed source is based on the photo production of neutrons, including (,n) production and photofission, with a 40 MeV electron beam with power of up to 100 kW. This accelerator energy and power level is within the capabilities of superconducting linacs now being developed by Niowave. In a parallel development independent to this proposal, Niowave is currently building a radioisotope production facility using a 40 MeV, 100 kW superconducting electron linac. Construction will begin in early 2014, and will be completed by the end of 2015. The proposed fast neutron source will be housed at a separate target station. This SBIR would involve the design, optimization and licensing issues of the fast neutron source. Because a majority of the development is already underway with the isotope production facility, our intent is to have the proposed commercial neutron user facility operational by the completion of Phase II. Phase III of this proposal will make the technology to build an entire neutron source facility available as a commercial product.
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