The Texas A&M University System encompasses many unique facilities for training, education, and research, particularly in the areas of nuclear engineering and emergency preparedness and response.
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Nuclear Science Center (NSC) is a multidisciplinary research and education center supporting basic and applied research in nuclear-related fields of science and technology and providing educational opportunities for students in these fields as a service to the public and The Texas A&M University System. The center also provide services to commercial ventures and industry requiring irradiation, training, or isotope production services. The centerpiece of the NSC is a 1 megawatt TRIGA (Testing, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics) reactor, an open “swimming pool”-type research reactor cooled by natural convection providing passive and inherent safety. The core consists of cylindrical fuel elements reflected with graphite.
Created by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), Disaster City is the world’s largest search-and-rescue training facility. It delivers the full array of skills and techniques needed by today’s emergency response professionals. The mock community features full-scale, collapsible structures designed to simulate various levels of disaster and wreckage, which can be customized for the specific training needs of any group. Emergency responders from across the globe venture to Disaster City for search and rescue training and exercises.
The TEEX Emergency Operations Training Center (EOTC) uses state-of-the-art simulation and computer-based technologies to train incident managers, supervisors, and jurisdiction officials in the management of a large-scale crisis using a unified command approach, which can be tailored to any group. A 32,000-square-foot facility located on a 297-acre campus that encompasses two of the top hands-on emergency response training venues in the country, Disaster City and the Brayton Fire Training Field, the multi-million-dollar EOTC includes direct links to active response in Disaster City.
The R. Ken Williams ’45 Radiogenic Isotope Geosciences Laboratory allows College of Geosciences faculty and students to perform radiogenic isotope interdisciplinary research in diverse fields such as (but not limited to) marine geology, global tectonics, geochronology, environmental sciences, paleoceanography, and paleoclimate.
Established on the TAMU campus in College Station in 2009, the Stable Isotope Geosciences Facility is designed to provide accessible, reliable and high-quality stable isotope measurements and training for faculty, staff and students within the College of Geosciences and the Texas A&M community. It was also created as a facility where state-of-the-art methodologies and technological developments in stable isotopes could be applied to important societal problems related to energy, ecology, Earth history, and the environment.
The laboratories and facilities in the Texas A&M University Department of Nuclear Engineering are second to none, and we are widely recognized as one of the best-equipped nuclear engineering programs in the country. We are one of only three university nuclear engineering departments in the United States with access to two nuclear reactors for teaching and research: a 1-megawatt reactor operated by the Texas Engineering Experiment Station’s Nuclear Science Center and a five-watt AGN-201M reactor operated by our department. Our other research laboratories are listed below.
The Accelerator Laboratory is one of the largest university ion irradiation facilities in the US. A total of five accelerators are able to deliver virtually all ions in the elemental table with ion energy from a few hundred eV to a few MeVs. The lab provides unique capabilities to perform accelerator based irradiation studies on various nuclear materials. The lab is also very active in multidisciplinary research, including fundamental ion solid interactions, accelerator based ion beam mixing, ion beam assisted film deposition, ion doping, Rutherford backscattering spectrometry, elastic recoil detection analysis, nuclear reaction analysis, and particle induced X-ray emission analysis.
Fuel Cycle and Materials Laboratory
The Fuel Cycle and Materials Laboratory (FCML) was established to study current issues in the nuclear fuel cycle, including materials and chemical processing, advanced fuels and materials, and waste immobilization. Equipment in FCML includes high temperature furnaces, two inert atmosphere gloved boxes, and a 90-ton hydraulic press. These may be configured for casting, instrumented sintering, cold or hot pressing, and hot extrusion. Further, the laboratory is equipped and has been approved for the handling, testing and characterization of radioactive materials. Currently funded projects from the US Department of Energy include materials processing activities to develop advanced nuclear fuels for burning transuranic radionuclides and radioactive waste forms for isolating fission products.
Nuclear Forensics and Radiochemistry Laboratory
The Nuclear Forensics and Radiochemistry Laboratory maintains a wide variety of instrumentation that is employed to develop a bench-scale setup for the PUREX chemical process of neutron irradiated uranium fuel surrogates. This laboratory is used to educate students on the fundamentals of radiochemistry and nuclear forensics. The laboratory allows students to explore current advances in the field. To demonstrate the nuclear forensics capabilities and handling special nuclear materials, the lab includes a glove box and fume hood. The lab is equipped with radiation spectroscopy and detection instruments such as NaI, HPGe and PIPS detectors to support nuclear forensics studies. The laboratory is used for both education and research.
Interphase Transport Phenomena Laboratory
The ITP Laboratory conducts research in the area of interfacial heat, mass and momentum transport. The ITP group has worked in the areas of modeling and measurement of zero gravity multiphase flow systems including the development of technologies for implementing in zero and reduced gravities. Laboratory experiments have flown on more than 50 reduced gravity aircraft flight campaigns amassing over 10,000 parabolas of experience. In addition, the laboratory has had hardware developed and flown on the space shuttle, space station, and suborbital vehicles. The laboratory was part of a multiagency effort to test a loop heat pipe on orbit as part of STS-87. Currently, the laboratory is working on a number of advanced thermal and fluid management technologies for NASA and industry.
Thermal-Hydraulic Research Laboratory
The mission of the laboratory is to investigate the complex, multiphase flow of multiscale, multi-physics flow phenomena using non-intrusive global field measurement techniques. The laboratory provides the ability to use state-of-the-art particle image velocimetry techniques to study these flows. The laboratory is equipped with fast-pulsed, high-energy lasers and fast high-resolution cameras. Data are analyzed using in-house developed tracking, imaging and pattern recognition routines. The combination of instantaneous measurements of full-fields of velocity and laser-induced temperature measurements enables a multitude of interesting studies of single and multiphase flows.
Microbeam Cell Irradiation Facility
The microbeam cell irradiation facility provides specialized irradiation capabilities needed to implement radiation biology experiments to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the risk of long term health effects related to low doses of ionizing radiation. Radiation sources include 250 keV x ray machine, 80 keV electron microbeam, and 2 MeV tandem electrostatic accelerator with single particle microbeam capability. The microbeam facilities can reproduce most of the range of charged particles that are found in environmental and industrial settings, and are designed to facilitate study of effects in bystander cells and other biological phenomena that are found at low doses.
Radiation Detection and Measurements Laboratory
The Radiation Detection and Measurements Laboratory maintains a wide variety of instrumentation that is employed to study radiation and radioactive decay. This laboratory is used to educate students on the fundamentals of radiation detection and allows them to explore current advances in the field. The lab also houses several pieces of instrumentation that allow students to explore and understand the science of gamma spectroscopy.
Nuclear Security and Emergency Response Laboratory
Features: mechanically-cooled HPGes; radiation isotope identification devices; emergency response radiation detection equipment; neutron coincidence detection capability; vehicle-mountable scalable gamma detection array; comprehensive surveillance system apparatus (camera, IR, motion); and HPGe system for determining U and Pu sample enrichment.