Keywords: university reactors, PULSTAR, neutron imaging, neutron diffraction, positron beam, ultracold neutron source, nuclear education, nuclear knowledge management, nuclear reactors, nuclear engineering, engineering education, nuclear power, nuclear energy
Experience in the utilisation of a university reactor in education and research
During the 1980s and 1990s, the utility of university reactors in education and research became questionable. This result may be attributed to several factors, including the decline of programmatic funding for such facilities, the lack of technical personnel who are able to utilise these reactors, and the general apathy towards nuclear engineering education. Recently, nuclear power has reemerged as a viable global source of reliable and environmentally friendly power. Therefore a resurgence of nuclear engineering education and research has been initiated worldwide. At North Carolina State University (NCSU), the Nuclear Reactor Program has initiated an ambitious plan for developing a state-of-the-art reactor-based centre for the nondestructive examination of materials. This centre is based on unique tools that utilise the radiation emanating from the core of the 1-MW PULSTAR reactor as a probe of matter. Facilities to perform neutron imaging and neutron powder diffraction have been developed and are currently operational. An intense low-energy positron beam is in advanced stages of testing and operation. In addition, an Ultracold Neutron source is in the construction stage. All these projects engaged undergraduate and graduate students, which has resulted in an excellent educational and research experience for a new generation of students.