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In the RACE Project of the U.S. Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative (AFCI), a series of accelerator driven subcritical systems (ADSS) experiments is being conducted at the Idaho State University’s Idaho Accelerator Center (ISU-IAC) and at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, and will be conducted at the Texas A&M University. In these experiments electron accelerators are used to induce bremsstrahlung photon-neutron reactions in heavy-metal targets; this source of 1010 to 1013 n/s initiates fission reactions in the subcritical systems. These systems include a compact, transportable assembly at ISU and TRIGA reactors at UT-Austin and Texas A&M. These experiments will provide a variety of cores, fuel types and enrichments, and target/reactor configurations for many separate accelerator coupling studies. The UNLV portion of this project will be a three-year, three-phase project employing a principal investigator (as well as the UNLV TRP RACE Project Director), a graduate student, and undergraduate students to support computational and experimental research at the ISU and the Texas universities, to integrate the UNLV Transmutation Research Project with this accelerator-driven transmutation research, and to further develop UNLV’s computational infrastructure for reactor physics research.

M.E. undergraduate students Ryan LeCounte, Brice Howard, and Timothy Beller continued a two-semester senior design project to design, construct, and test a new high-power, uranium containing water-cooled target for Texas RACE. They have dubbed the target the Cooled Electron Target--Optimized for Neutron Production, or CETON. During the second semester, after analyzing and constructing a prototype of a compact version of CETON, they determined that a design change was needed. The new design includes a tungsten electron-photon converter, an aluminum cooling shroud, and a cavity for inserting an aluminum-clad natural uranium photon-neutron converter. They sized the cavity for natural uranium rods being transferred from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to Idaho State University. They also acquired and installed the FLUENT® CFD code, then used it to begin analysis of cooling of the high-power target. The students then completed the final design of the high-power target and initiated purchasing and fabrication of components.


Accelerator-driven systems; Bremsstrahlung; Nuclear reactions; Neutrons; Photons; Transmutation (Chemistry)


Nuclear | Nuclear Engineering