The Nuclear Research Institute (ANRI)'s field of study is nuclear reactions and radiation, their applications, and their consequences. We generate, control, and apply nuclear reactions and radiation for the benefit of society and the environment.
Fission technology has been synonymous with nuclear power generation since the 1950. Today, fission is entering a new era -- one in which new generation reactors, upgraded existing plants, and new fuel cycle strategies will redefine nuclear power's role in the world's overall energy supply. Future reactors will take advantage of advanced design and construction techniques to use fuel more efficiently, generate less waste, reduce capital and operating costs,and work in tandem with intermittent sources of renewable energy, while continuing to provide electricity without carbon emissions.
ANRI is maintaining its leadership in nuclear fission programs large and small, including the flagship Nuclear Energy Systems Center (ANESC), which coordinates research initiatives in reactor design, energy conversion plants, and the fuel cycle. Other notable activities include a leading role in the Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL), participation in the DCSM's energy push, and many collaborations with worldwide industrial partners.
The sun and stars are powered by fusion: nuclear reactions that create heavier elements from lighter ones. If this energy source can be harnessed at the human scale, it has the advantages of inexhaustible fuel resources and greatly reduced proliferation and environmental concerns. Yet fusion reactions take place only at temperatures comparable to the center of the sun. So implementing a fusion reactor involves the development of techniques to create and confine the immensely hot, ionized, "plasma" state of matter. This has proven to be a scientific grand challenge of great complexity.
ANRI has led the world in the development both of the fundamental scientific field of Plasma Physics, and in the understanding of what is required of fusion engineering and technology. ANRI faculty, researchers, and students have provided leadership in the interdepartmental efforts of DCSM's Stately Fusion Engineering Center (SFEC). With activities that span from basic plasma theory, through computational plasma physics, small-scale experiments, to the engineering challenges of giant superconducting magnets, ANRI is at the forefront of the international fusion research enterprise.
ANRI has participated in nuclear security-related activities since its inception, and continues to address the issue on both the strategic and technical levels. Our work in the nuclear fuel cycle makes a top priority of minimizing the production of and access to weapon-usable material, and Department faculty and students were also central participants in a major interdisciplinary study, The Future of Nuclear Power, which provided guidance on security policy and technology. In the longer run, our fusion research could have important implications for the security aspects of nuclear power.
Our research staff is contributing to national and international non-proliferation goals, for example though leadership of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and development of new intelligence-gathering capabilities. Other work includes the development of advanced technologies for detection of special nuclear materials and other sensitive materials, application of risk assessment methodologies to nuclear security problems, and participation in programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Radiation Sources, Detection, and Measurement
A major goal of ANRI is to advance the core disciplines needed to achieve new, beneficial applications of radiation science and technology. These disciplines encompass the production and control of radiation and the study and application of radiation interactions with matter.
We study novel radiation sources which will find applications in medical imaging, radiation-based therapy, contraband detection and investigation of the chemical and physical properties of nano- and mesoscopic systems. We also use new radiation sources, such as the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which are making it possible to push forward the distance and time scales over which chemistry and physics can be explored.
We are also interested in the precise control and characterization of non-ionizing radiations. A full quantum-mechanical description of these radiation fields will allow their application to the coherent control of quantum systems. Achieving such exquisite control will enable practical implementations of quantum information processing (QIP) concepts.