The Design and Construction of a Cold Neutron Source for Use in the Cornell University Triga Reactor
A cold neutron source has been designed and constructed for insertion into the 6"-radial beam port of the Cornell University TRIGA reactor for use with a neutron guide tube system. The main differences between this cold source and other existing sources are the use of heat conduction as the method of cooling and the use of mesitylene (1,3,5 -trimethylbenzene; melting point, 228(DEGREES)K; boiling point, 437(DEGREES)K) as the moderating material. This thesis describes the design and construction details of the cold neutron source, discusses its safety aspects, and presents its cryogenic performance curves and also the results of a test of its neutron moderating ability. A closed-cycle helium gas refrigerator, located outside the reactor shielding, cools the 500 cm('3) moderator chamber and its surrounding heat shield by heat conduction through two meters of copper and rod tubing. Moderator temperatures of 23 (+OR-) 3(DEGREES)K have been achieved. Mesitylene, a hydrocarbon, is an effective cold moderator because even at low temperatures the weakly hindered rotational motions of its methyl groups enable the absorption of small amounts of energy ((LESSTHEQ) 0.005 eV) from neutrons. The use of mesitylene simplifies the cold source design because it is a liquid at room temperature and thus, the usual design safeguards required for sources using gaseous moderators are not necessary. Moreover, the flammability of mesitylene is much smaller than that of hydrogen and methane, which are the commonly used cold moderators. A method of transferring and handling the mesitylene, a carcinogen, was devised to ensure minimal contact with this substance. To test the neutron moderating ability of the cold neutron source, an out-of-reactor neutron transmission experiment was performed with the moderator chamber first at room temperature and then at about 23(DEGREES)K. The results indicate that the neutron energy spectrum is strongly shifted to lower energies when the chamber is cold. The neutrons have an apparent temperature of 98(DEGREES)K, if the moderated flux is assumed to be Maxwellian. This, however, is unlikely to be the actual case since the geometry of the chamber, neutron beam, and detector and the complexities of the neutron scattering and absorption processes in mesitylene doubtlessly distort the leakage energy spectrum.
- Pub Date:
- NEW YORK;
- Physics: Nuclear