Research

Sandia Pulsed Reactor Facility - Critical Experiments

Sandia scientist John Ford places fuel rods in the Seven Percent Critical Experiment (7uPCX) at the Sandia Pulsed Reactor Facility Critical Experiments (SPRF/CX) test reactor — a reactor stripped down to its simplest form.

The Sandia Pulsed Reactor Facility ‑ Critical Experiments (SPRF/CX) provides a flexible, shielded location for performing critical experiments that employ different reactor core configurations and fuel types. The facility is also available for hands-on nuclear criticality safety training.

Research and other activities

The 7% series, an evaluation of various core characteristics for higher commercial-fuel enrichment, is currently under way at the SPRF/CX. Past critical experiments at the SPRF/CX have included the Burnup Credit Critical Experiment series and experiments for the Space Nuclear Thermal Propulsion program.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Nuclear Energy Research Initiative and the DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program have served as research sponsors of SPRF/CX activities.

Future sponsors may consist of organizations interested in water-moderated critical experiments and criticality safety training.

Special features and equipment

The SPRF/CX is housed in a shielded reactor room that was used for past models of the Sandia Pulsed Reactor.

The facility offers the following special features:

  • Facility containment within a shielded reactor room
  • The ability to modify the core configuration and reactor tank to evaluate various reactor cores for pitch, moderator characteristics, and other criteria
  • The capability for water-moderated critical experiments
  • Remote-cabling capabilities
  • A facility for hands-on criticality safety training