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Alternative Source for Neutron Generation


OBJECTIVE: Develop an alternative technology and methodology to conduct nuclear survivability testing of US weapons and Space Systems from the current approach that employs nuclear reactor. Develop a technology that can provide the Neutron and gamma environment for test and evaluation consistent with requirements established in Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 3150.09 and Army Regulation (AR) 70-75 that does not employ highly enriched nuclear materials. Effectively meeting this objective will dramatically reduce the life cycle cost associated with nuclear survivability testing by significantly eliminating the security and logistical requirements associated with the operation of a fast burst reactor. DESCRIPTION: This SBIR Topic is seeking a technologically viable alternative to the Fast Burst Reactor (FBR) at White Sands Missile Range. This alternative should be capable of providing the Neutron radiation environment required for Nuclear Survivability Testing. The capability should not be considered an FBR Simulator, but rather a means of replicating that portion of the threat spectrum that the FBR presently supports. Such technology must eliminate the need for highly enriched Uranium or similar fuel as part of the test capability. The capability must also increase system availability and demonstrate a significantly reduced life cycle cost. The required minimum capability must be scalable to meet the following characteristics: Burst and Steady state (Power) Modes Burst Mode: up to 6.5E13 neutrons per square centimeter (n/cm2) of 45 microsecond pulse width Stead State Mode up to 8 kW Ability to provide mixed neutron/gamma environments PHASE I: Conduct necessary Research and Development to identify and document all feasible options. Describe and predict viable options to generate the required Neutron environments. Provide Cost Estimates of all options researched as well as Pro/Cons of each option. Conduct a feasibility study of all options researched and provide detailed results on cost and value. Describe and document special facility requirements such as Power/Shielding/Diagnostics/Operational Issues/Safety. Develop an initial design concept and model the key elements to include Neutron Generation, Controls, Diagnostics. Develop a detailed analysis of predicted performance. Phase I deliverables will consist of a Conceptual Design document, Predicted Performance, Facility requirements described above. PHASE II: Finalize the Design from the Phase I effort. Provide a detailed plan for development of a prototype to include Modeling, Simulation and analysis. Based on the Feasibility Study results of Phase I, Develop and Test a functional prototype. Phase II Deliverables will include documenting the design of all key elements to include Neutron Generation, Controls, Diagnostics and addressing all Safety Requirements. The Prototype will be a deliverable. PHASE III: The End State of this SBIR, if successful through Phase II, would be to replace the Fast Burst reactor at WSMR with a properly scaled develop system based upon the developed technology. This capability shall allow for survivability testing of items from component level (e.g. integrated circuits) all the way to System level (e.g. Tactical Ground Vehicle System). The most likely path for transition to an operational capability would be to seek funding through Army Investment and Modernization funds. Alternately funding may be obtained through the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSC), Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) Central Test and Evaluation Investment Program (CTEIP). Commercial customers would benefit from Reduced Cost to test Satellite Systems/Components and DoD/White Sands Missile Range would benefit from a massive reduction in Security and Guard forces and logistical process required presently associated with operating a fast burst reactor.
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