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Reactor Safety and Materials Testing

Preparing through prediction: Our unique test facilities and advanced computational tools allow for the testing of various reactor materials, systems and components along with prediction of consequences during normal and off-normal reactor events.

We conduct experimental and computational research to characterize, understand and predict materials behavior in extreme nuclear environments and design, build, and operate experimental facilities that test reactor sub-systems and components in prototypic environments to generate validation data for a variety of advanced computational tools.

  • Activated Materials Laboratory (AML)—A new radiological facility developed to assist the nuclear community in examining radioactive samples at the High-Energy X-ray Microscope (HEXM) and other beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source.
  • Argonne Liquid Metal Experiment Facility (ALEX)—The ALEX facility is designed for research using liquid metal systems and reaches areas as varied as nuclear physics, material science, and nuclear engineering.
  • Corium Concrete Interactions (CCI)—A corium/concrete interaction experimental facility—the largest of its kind—that supports development of severe accident codes.
  • Environmentally Assisted Cracking (EAC) Laboratory—Four autoclave systems to evaluate the resistance of nuclear reactor structural materials to environmentally assisted cracking in simulated light water reactor coolant environments.
  • Intermediate Voltage Electron Microscopy-Tandem (IVEM)—A dual-ion beam facility for in situ TEM studies of defect structures in materials under controlled ion irradiation/implantation and sample conditions.
  • Irradiated Materials Laboratory (IML)—A hot cell facility used to conduct research on the behavior of commercial nuclear reactor materials, including fuel cladding, pressure vessels, and other in-reactor components.
  • MAX—A fluid dynamics facility that generates high resolution data for validation of turbulence models.
  • Mechanisms Engineering Test Loop Facility (METL)—An intermediate-scale liquid metal experimental facility supporting the development of next-generation components and workforce for sodium fast reactors. It is capable of testing sodium systems and components at prototypic conditions up to 1200°F .
  • Natural Convection Shutdown Heat Removal Test Facility (NSTF)—A large-scale facility that examines passive decay heat removal and emergency cooling system for next generation power plants.
  • PELICAN—Argonne’s pressure drop experimental loop for investigation of core assemblies in advanced nuclear reactors generates verification and validation data for modern reactor designs.
  • SNAKE Sodium S-CO2 Interactions Experiment—A fluid mechanics/heat transfer facility examining supercritical-CO2 leakage into sodium to support advanced nuclear reactors and energy conversion systems (advanced Brayton Cycle)
  • Steam Generator Tube Integrity—Facilities used to validate models for tube performance in pressurized water reactor steam generators.
  • THETA—A liquid sodium thermal hydraulic research facility with versatile mounting flanges which allow for performance assessment of heat exchanger and heat pipe designs. Nominal and loss of flow reactor states may be simulated; advanced sensors provide high fidelity experimental data for systems code validation.