Source: The Oak Ridger | July 24, 2020

The Y-12 National Security Complex is lending its computing power and technical expertise to improve fuel production for Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). Scientists use the reactor for basic science research and for producing medical isotopes to treat cancer patients. The research reactor is also being used for COVID-19 research and other studies.

For decades, Y-12 has been the sole supplier of the uranium oxide powder used in the fabrication of fuel for HFIR. According to a news release, Y-12 recently used computed tomography (CT), or computerized X-Ray imaging, to generate three-dimensional images of surface and interior welds in the fuel elements for HFIR. The scans — of three welds in the highly enriched uranium inner fuel elements — will help to ensure the elements will perform as designed before they are installed in the reactor.

An important mission

The Y-12 team worked closely with Dan Pinkston, an ORNL engineer who provides technical oversight for fabrication of fuel, control rods, and other internal components that go into the core of HFIR.

“We’ve worked well together,” Pinkston stated in the release. “Y-12 has been supportive of this effort because they understand the importance of HFIR’s mission. The reactor is the only reliable U.S. source for some industrial and medical isotopes, including the cancer-fighting isotopes actinium-227, californium-252, and strontium-90.”

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