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Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


The Reed research reactor facility has received two grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The first grant, for $47,000, is from the DOE’s university reactor instrumentation (URI) program. The funds will be used to replace two of the facility’s power indicators and its water level detection system. The second grant, for $13,000, is from the DOE’s reactor sharing program. It will allow the reactor facility to continue to offer tours, experiments, and research programs to middle school, high school, and college students.

Students can now use modern technology instead of 1968 vintage equipment," said reactor facility director Stephen Frantz. "Since it is primarily the students who use, maintain, and calibrate the equipment, this has obvious educational benefits."

Each year, the reactor facility receives more than 1,500 visitors from colleges, primary and secondary schools, and community groups. The visitors take tours, conduct experiments, and watch demonstrations. The money the reactor facility received from the DOE’s reactor sharing program will pay for the extra time and personnel required to run the reactor for outside groups.

The Reed reactor facility consists of a 250-kilowatt TRIGA MARK I research reactor, installed in 1968, and associated laboratories. The facility is available to local primary and secondary schools throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. It is used for educational and research purposes in a variety of fields, including chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine, environmental science, and geology.

Four nuclear power indicators are currently installed in the reactor facility. Previous DOE grants allowed Reed to replace two of the power indicators as well as the instrumentation electronics to replace the other two. The power indicator that the reactor facility will purchase with the DOE’s grant money combines the two older power indicators–the logarithmic channel and the count rate channel–into one device, the Sorrento FC-10. The Sorrento FC-10 will allow the reactor facility to more accurately determine the reactor’s power output. The DOE’s URI grant also includes money to replace the reactor facility’s water level detector and display and to pay for installation expertise.

In addition to the reactor itself, the reactor facility supports and operates a neutron howitzer, intrinsic germanium gamma spectroscopy equipment, an x-ray fluorescence machine, and a state-approved portable radiation monitor calibration range. Two full-time employees staff the reactor facility, aided by 23 Reed students who are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Many Reed students use the reactor to conduct experiments for science classes and for senior thesis research.

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