Hall Talk – ANS Chicago 6/26

ATR Users Week

By Dan Yurman

ATR Core simulation image

University faculty and their students who want to conduct scientific work at the Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL) Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) Scientific User Facility get a unique opportunity each year to learn how to write intelligent proposals that win funding.

Todd Allen, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the ATR National User Facility, says the week long training session is now in its fourth year, with a good mix of U.S. and international participants.  Allen is attending the ANS meeting in Chicago and dropped by to talk about the program.

Earlier this month about 50 people came to Idaho Falls, ID, to learn how to write high quality statements of work for advanced fuel design scientific experiments using INL laboratory facilities. The program consists of two days of lectures and two days of hands-on work in INL labs. A fifth day reviews successful proposals.

Lecture topics include experiment design, advanced modeling of nuclear fuel, and post irradiation examination of experiments after they are taken out of the reactor.  The classes include a tour of the ATR and the MFC Hot Cells. Some participants also get a chance to work with some of the computer codes that support scientific work at the facility.

On the fifth day the participants get a briefing about ongoing projects and a review of successful proposals that received funding. A big project can cost upwards of $1 million and a small one can come in at about $50K. The grants cover reactor time and support, but not researcher salaries or travel.

An example of a recent project includes the testing of reactor pressure vessel materials. The objective of the test was to use a high rate of radiation over a short period of time to replicate long term residence of the same materials in a LWR pressure vessel. This is a work in progress with the results still to be determined.

Allen said, “This is the type of specialized analysis that is not available elsewhere.”

More recently, the Idaho lab collaborated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), combining scientific work on materials with similarly complex work on fuels. Participants in the program spent a week in Tennessee, followed by a week in Idaho. Overall, 50 researchers were involved in the combined program.

Todd Allen,Ph.D.

Allen notes that skills in proposal writing for ATR helps with organization of applications for other grants. Right now, the ATR program is getting four good proposals for each one that it can fund.

The schedule for the next class involves applications being open from December 2012 to February 2013. The next class meetings are in June 2013.

For more information contact:

Todd Allen, Ph.D
Scientific Director
ATR National Scientific User Facility
Email: allen@engr.wisc.edu
Web: ATRNSUF Home Page

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One Response to Hall Talk – ANS Chicago 6/26

  1. Jeff Terry

    One addition to this great article, the Advanced Test Reactor Users Organization is currently in a membership drive. Membership is free to anyone who conducts or supports the mission of Nuclear Energy related research at the Advanced Test Reactor National Scientific User facility. One can join the Users Organization at the following ATR NSUO

    We appreciate all the support we can get to ensure a vibrant nuclear energy research community.

    Thank you,

    Jeff Terry
    Chair, Advanced Test Reactor Users Organization
    Associate Professor of Physics
    Illinois Institute of Technology