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Research and Test Reactors

Engineering design, development and testing for advanced reactors and fuels

Our department leads the engineering design, development and testing needed to bring advanced reactors and fuels online across a wide range of types of research and test reactors. Through collaborations with many domestic and international organizations, we engage in the design, development and deployment stages required to bring new fuels into research and test reactors across the world. These reactors meet a variety of needs critical to society including non-proliferation, medical diagnostics and therapeutics, neutron beams for scientific imaging, and nuclear energy. Our group serves the nation’s non-proliferation missions by providing technical leadership for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office of Material Management and Minimization (M3). M3 continues the mission of the Department of Energy (DOE) Reactor Conversion Program that has converted over 70 reactors worldwide from the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel since 1978 while deploying for the first time several new nuclear fuels, including uranium silicide (U3Si2).

Our staff have expertise across core neutronics, thermal hydraulics and transients, including extensive experience in licensing currently operating research and test reactors. A dedicated technical integration team brings together experts in fuel development, fabrication, reactor assembly design, nuclear quality assurance, and procurement of new fuels across the world. Along with fuel developers from Argonne and other organizations worldwide, our group and the Fuel Development and Qualification Group of Argonne’s Chemical and Fuel Cycle Technologies Division work to define and assist with licensing of the technical basis for fuel properties and safety limits for new fuels and for expanded use of existing fuels under more challenging irradiation conditions.

The Research Reactor Methods and Codes group also maintains two high performance clusters with a collection of advanced core physics and thermal hydraulic codes for our analysts and international collaborators. We also develop and distribute custom software for the design and licensing of research and test reactors.

See the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) website for further information on our work and the RERTR annual international meeting.