Development of a cryogenic tracer irradiation facility

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Lester, Ryan Stuart

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The goal of this thesis is to provide instruction on the design, modeling, construction, and implementation of a cryogenic tracer irradiation facility that produces isotopically pure noble gas samples both efficiently and cost effectively. These samples will be used for various research purposes. This facility will be installed into Beam Port 1 (BP1) of The University of Texas at Austin’s Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab (NETL) TRIGA Mark II reactor core. This work builds on previous creation of noble gas activities of ¹²⁷Xe and ³⁷Ar on the order of 3.7x10¹⁰ Bq (1 Ci). These were produced through the activation of ¹²⁶Xe and ³⁶r, respectively, in the 3-Element facility which sat within the reactor core. This new facility offers means to produce these tracer gases in ways that are much safer and more cost-effective. Methods developed include solidification of the respective gases to increase sample density, change of location, and new facility components. The most important aspect of the design is the changes made to increase sample density by way of cryogenically freezing the gases onto a condenser. Beam Port 1 was chosen because it is larger than the in-core facilities and provided a safer location than in the core itself in the event that the pressure safety limit was exceeded. To efficiently freeze these gases a condensing system was designed and built by Cryomech Inc. The condensing system is composed of an irradiation canister, heat exchanger, helium compressor and transfer lines, and gas transfer lines.


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