ORNL’s research reactor returns to action following upgrades, repairs, maintenance


DOE photo

Tim Powers, Oak Ridge National  Laboratory’s reactor chief, said the High Flux Isotope Reactor resumed operations on Tuesday (Jan. 13), following a 32-day outage for maintenance and repairs.

Powers said the maintenance period was a little longer than usual because it took place over the holidays. The ORNL official cited several tasks that were completed during the outage.

Among them:

— Modifications to the “deep well pump” in the reactor pool.

— Installation of new vibration monitoring sensors for one of the cooling tower fans.

— Upgraded the “uninterruptable power supplies” for the research  beam lines known as GP-SANS and BIO-SANS.

— Modified a lab to support laser alignment and testing activities for Helium-3 neutron detection systems.

— Repaired an important valve related to the HFIR’s Cold Source.

— Did maintenance on the pool coolant pumps, emergency power generators, nuclear safety channels, secondary temperature control system and primary temperature control system.

Powers said lab workers also did surveillance tests and inspections on the reactor’s pony motor batteries and the primary coolant pump bearing temperature system.

There apparently were no problems during the restart and ramp up to power, and the plan is to operate the High Flux Isotope Reactor for 24 days before shutting down on Feb. 6 for additional maintenance and refueling.

As noted in earlier posts, the High Flux Isotope Reactor uses highly enriched uranium (93.8 percent U-235) for fuel, and the fuel inventory is currently the lowest in the reactor’s history.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.