Especially noteworthy developments were the continued operation of the in-pile slow strain tensile testing facility which successfully completed the first ever actively loaded slow strain test in an in-pile autoclave at BWR conditions, the initial operation of a facility for the study of in-core instrumented crack sensors and electrochemical corrosion potential sensors which addresses the effect of hydrogen injection on crack growth rate, and the continued program in joint research with Tufts-New England Medical Center on the treatment of brain cancer utilizing the boron neutron capture method. The latter project has reached the clinical trial phase and has had a doubling of its budget after the latest site review. A major activity to carry out nuclear transmutation doping of semiconductor grade silicon single crystals was continued and currently NTD silicon crystals are being produced at a rate of ~ 10 tonnes/year, with a gross income to the MITR of more than $1M/year.
During the past year a major effort has been participation in the Hawaiian Scientific Drilling Project the ultimate objective of which is to understand the entire history of Hawaiian volcanoes. The chemical compositions of lavas forming these volcanoes, the largest on earth, change systematically with eruption age and this information can be used to constrain the source, composition and mineralogy, and the depth and extent of melting.
Dr. Ilhan Olmez continued a major attempt to increase the utilization of NRL by making its neutron activation analysis facilities and expertise available to industry, other universities, private and governmental laboratories, and hospitals in the area (as described in The MIT REPORT, May 1986). Research and/or service-oriented collaborations were established with several MIT research laboratories as well as with other educational and research institutions in addition to those established in previous years, including the following: Environment Canada; Harvard University; The Technical University of Budapest; Middle East Technical University, Ankara; and the University of Connecticut. Commercial organizations that utilized the NAA expertise of NRL during the past year were Physical Sciences Inc., Andover, Massachusetts; the Empire State Electric Energy Research Corporation (ESEERCO), New York; the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, California; CARNOT, Tustin, California; Energy Reserch Corporation, Danbury, Connecticut; Oculan Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Spire Corporation, Bedford, Massachusetts; and Radian Corporation, Houston, Texas.
Within MIT, research support has been provided to several departments. This research support includes: analyzing trace elements in biological samples for Professor Richard J. Wurtman (Clinical Research Center); using INAA to find impurities in samples for Professor Bernardt J. Wuensch (Department of Materials Science & Engineering); doing sediment analysis for Dr. Richard Lanza (Department of Nuclear Engineering); analysis of various environmental and biological samples for trace and toxic metals for Professor William G. Thilly (Center for Environmental Health Sciences); and analysis of peat cores for trace metals for Professor Harold F. Hemond (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering).
Dr. Olmez has been actively engaged in a number of environmental research projects. A three-year $500,000 grant which was obtained from the Empire State Electric Energy Research Corporation to study the current toxic metal levels in atmospheric particulate materials and wet deposition in upstate New York continued. Additional funding of $216,000 has been obtained for this project.
Funding continued in the past year for the study of the fate of mercury in the environment (ESEERCO, $600,000/three years).
New funding ($104,000) has been obtained from EPRI on a major collaborative effort to provide basic scientific information that will serve air quality management in the eastern United States.
Course 22.78, Nuclear Techniques in Environmental Analysis, was offered by Dr. I. Olmez. There are currently three Ph.D. candidates working on projects in environmental research.
A number of other research applications of NAA are summarized in a subsequent section, Reactor Irradiations and Services for Research Groups outside MIT.
The MIT Reactor also supports nuclear medicine programs conducted by several hospital and radiopharmaceutical groups outside MIT. Included in this work is the successful program in radiation synovectomy for rheumatoid arthritis at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The MIT Administration established a panel which reviewed the cost and benefits of the MIT Research Reactor Project.
In a number of other areas, also, reactor irradiations and services were performed for research groups outside MIT. Most of these represent continuations of previous research: 1) Dr. Alan P. Fleer of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute used irradiation to determine natural actinides and plutonium in marine sediments; 2) Dr. Robert Kaiser of Entropic Systems, Inc., is studying the irradiation of fluorinated oils, (3) Mr. Leonard Cirignano of Refraction Monitoring Devices, Inc., is investigating the effects of irradiation on liquid crystals; 4) Dr. James Thompson of Oak Ridge National Laboratory is studying radiation hardening of superconducting material; 5) Dr. Gerjian P. Van Bakel of Northwestern University is studying neutron damage of Ni-Al alloys; and 6) Dr. Fitzgerald of the University of Connecticut at Storrs evaluated air samples for mercury. Additional NAA services, including many for research groups outside MIT, are reported above in the section entitled Environmental Research and Radiochemistry.
Whereas most of the above outside users pay for irradiation services at the reactor, educational institutions needing such services for their own academic or research purposes are assisted in this regard by the USDOE through its "Reactor Sharing Program." A grant to MITNRL reimburses us for the costs of providing irradiation services and facilities to other institutions (including teaching hospitals and middle and high schools). Under this program 606 students and 49 faculty and staff from over 35 other educational institutions benefited from visits to and use of the MITR during the past year.
Research utilization of the MITR by other institutions under the Reactor Sharing Program during the past year has included: 1) use by Professors J. Christopher Hepburn and Rudolph Hon of Boston College to activate geological specimens and standards for the NAA of rare earth and other trace elements in studies of the geological development of the northeastern United States; 2) irradiation of geological specimens by Professor Paul Karabinos at Williams College; 3) gamma irradiation of plant seeds for several area high school students participating in science fair projects; 4) measurements of boron concentration and work on high resolution track etch autoradiography for Professor Robert Zamenhof of Tufts-New England Medical Center; 5) participation in several special high school student projects; 6) neutron activation analysis of subsurface water supplies by Professor Jack Beal at Fairfield
University; and 7) neutron activation analysis of ice core samples by Professor Chester C. Langway, Jr., of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
For education of the general public and students at all levels in local and other New England schools, the reactor staff provides lectures and tours periodically throughout the year. One local university incorporated reactor visits and experiments into its regular course curricula, as follows: The University of Massachusetts, Harbor Campus, Professor Martin Posner, Department of Physics, Physics 603, 10 students, 4 visits.
To summarize briefly the reactor utilization described in more detail above, it was well utilized during the year, although still more experiments and irradiations can be accommodated due to the number and versatility of its many facilities. The reactor, as an integrated whole, continues to be used in a series of experiments designed to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of reactor control by digital computer. Two pressurized loops for a major interdepartmental project on dose reduction for power reactors are installed in the reactor. A major project on irradiation-assisted stress corrosion cracking, initiated with United States and Japanese support, has also been installed, as has a facility for in-pile sensor testing. The number of specimen irradiations was 904. There were 18 irradiations in the medical room, most in support of the neutron capture therapy program for the treatment of brain cancer and subcutaneous melanoma. Theses and publications on research supported by the reactor are running at about 10 and 65 per year, respectively. A total of 1273 people toured the MIT Research Reactor during 1994.
A project has been initiated for the neutron transmutation doping of single crystal silicon ingots in one of the reactor's horizontal throughports. Physics and engineering studies were performed to characterize the neutron beam and to determine the feasibility of uniformly irradiating the ingots with simultaneous translational motion over an interval of several days through the beam port. These measurements and design studies were done by the MITR staff. Based on these results a machine for the irradiation of ingots was designed, built, and installed. Operation began in 1994 and this project is now providing a source of base support to the reactor.
DOE continues as the supplier of fuel to university research and training reactors. Babcock and Wilcox (B&W), Lynchburg, Virginia, is the fabricator and is commencing production of another batch of fuel for the MITR-II.
Otto K. Harling
MIT Reports to the President 1994-95