Note: Applications are no longer being accepted for the operations program.
The UCI Nuclear Reactor Facility is part of the Chemistry Department, of the School of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and was installed in 1968, first brought to criticality in 1969. The reactor is fueled by uranium, enriched to less than 20% of the 235 isotope, and moderated by water and zirconium hydride, giving it extremely safe operating characteristics. With the hydride incorporated into the fuel itself, the risk of catastrophic failure due to meltdown of the reactor is effectively completely mitigated, making the TRIGA reactor an ideal training and research platform.
As a Mark I TRIGA type capable of 250 kW steady state operation and pulses of up to 1.21 GW (largest on record at this facility), the reactor is primarily used for neutron activation analysis, which can determine the elemental composition of samples non-destructively for up to 74 different elements. This technique is applied to characterize any number of systems, such as spent nuclear fuel reprocessing, oil and gas refinery efficiency, and detection of uranium and thorium in the environment.
Training, Education, Research, Service
The reactor facility has new direction and strategic planning that is being aggressively pursued in order to achieve the full potential contributions of this unique research asset. Below are a few of the projects in each of the main thrusts of our nuclear platform.
Training: The reactor facility is committed to providing a training program to interested personnel. A formalized, for credit course has been developed and will launch in for September of 2019. Check out the page for more information and apply now if you're interested! If selected, you could sit on the ugliest couch on campus during training.
If you think you have an uglier couch on this campus, leave a comment on the news post about the outer office / training room reorganization.
Education: Work is underway to bring a professional master's degree program online utilizing the reactor facility. This is still in the early stages of development, but if you have interest in obtaining an advanced degree in all things nuclear (engineering, analysis, operation, policy, instrumentation and control, radiochemistry, etc.), then send us a message about it. Communicating your interest will be instrumental to this program.
Also in the educational thrust is our outreach program, which is available to host tours of the facility and send a liaison to give a demonstration at your school or business. Get some education through the Outreach page.
Last to mention, potential for credit internships at the reactor facility. A post will be made about this if we can accommodate any interns in the near future. Item of note: all applicants must be at least 18 years of age due to campus restrictions on radioactive and chemical work.
Research: A host of projects to expand and improve the research capabilities of our small facility are underway, such as: precision neutron fluence measurements, automation of irradiation and counting systems, neutronic and thermal-hydraulic simulations, and expansion plans. If any of your research goals can align with our capability, send us a message and we will work to ensure that your needs are met.
Service: Activities in support of research and development are available for educational, commercial, and industrial customers. Services that are currently being improved for such activities are: neutron activation analysis, material irradiation and testing, radiation detector characterization and testing, and special training and education courses.
For more information on any of these topics, please check the other pages of this site or send an email to the address(es) on the bottom of any page.