Performing Experiments at HFIR

There are many prerequisites to performing experiments at the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). This section is intended to point experimenters to the appropriate contact for interfacing with ORNL and HFIR for the various types of experiments that are typically performed at the reactor.

Since HFIR is a multi-purpose research reactor that supports a wide variety of scientific research areas. The following is a guide for researchers seeking experiments at the reactor.

Experiments using HFIR Beamlines
The HFIR-SNS Neutron Scattering User Facility manages beamline experiments at the HFIR. Any experiments that wish to use a beamline or beamline instrument should follow the processes for proposing such experiments via the User Facility web pages.

Experiments using HFIR’s In-core Experiment Facilities
In-vessel experiments are not part of the HFIR-SNS Neutron Scattering User Program.  These experiments typically include radioisotope research and production, materials and fuels irradiation experiments. Experimenters who wish to take advantage of the very high neutron flux inside the core of the reactor should contact HFIR Experiments Lead Chuck Ramsey for more information on how to work directly with the HFIR staff for in-vessel experiments.

More information and descriptions of the in-vessel irradiation facilities can be found here. In-vessel experimenters can find additional useful information in the downloadable High Flux Isotope Reactor User Guide.

Additionally, HFIR staff work closely with ORNL Radioisotope, Materials Science and Nuclear Fuels program staff to assist in vetting and prioritizing particular experiments.

Experiments using HFIR’s Gamma Irradiation Facility
Gamma-irradiation experiments are also not part of the HFIR-SNS Neutron Scattering User Program. Experimenters who wish to take advantage of the very high gamma radiation dose rates provided by HFIR spent fuel assemblies should contact Krystin Stiefel for more information on how to work directly with the HFIR staff for gamma irradiation experiments.

Nuclear Forensics / Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA)
The very-high neutron flux, well-characterized facilities, and superior detection systems provide world-leading forensics capabilities at ORNL. These capabilities are not accessed via the HFIR-SNS Neutron Scattering User Facility. To learn more about how to access these world-class facilities, please contact David Glasgow.

Experiments outside the scope of Beamlines, In-core, NAA or Gamma irradiations
Occasionally, experimenters wish to use other features of the HFIR for their experiment needs. For example, high energy physics and non-proliferation researchers find value in utilizing the high neutrino/antineutrino flux produced in the HFIR core by placing detectors in various locations around the HFIR facility. Additionally, non-proliferation researchers might wish to test new detection devices for various reactor plant systems in order to demonstrate advanced monitoring capabilities. These types of experiments are possibly at the HFIR, but since their configuration is usually integrated with reactor plant systems or the building itself, require special up-front consideration. These experiments follow the normal processes for plant modifications. Please contact HFIR Experiments Lead Chuck Ramsey to discuss these types of experiments.

Experiments in this category will including vetting and coordination with the appropriate ORNL department or program to ensure ORNL programmatic compatibility.

The Research Reactors Division (RRD) has the responsibility to ensure that all experiments pose no unacceptable risks to the safety of the reactor or personnel. Strict processes and procedures have been instituted to ensure safety.

The RRD Experiment Analysis and Coordination group will assist in navigating these policies as required. The group lead and contact is Chuck Ramsey.