The Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility at Idaho National Laboratory was restarted in 2018 after being in safe standby mode since 1994. The June 2020 issue of the American Nuclear Society's Nuclear Technology (NT) journal features seven technical papers related to the benchmarking of the facility. Wade Marcum, a lead researcher on the project and guest editor of June’s NT issue, explained, “The goal of this effort was to understand, to the best of our ability, the expected response of the TREAT reactor upon its restart.”
Marcum added that the TREAT Facility brings world-class transient fuel testing capabilities back to the United States. “This test reactor is a true asset to the U.S. nuclear research and development infrastructure, as it provides objective evidence as to the safety, and level thereof, related to nuclear materials and fuels, for which, in many cases, we presently are unable to reliably model,” Marcum said.
TREAT is a transient testing reactor designed to impose a highly controlled and prescribed neutronic and thermal hydraulic set of boundary conditions on an experiment located in the central region of its core. TREAT is a truly unique reactor in that nearly any conceivable experimental test chamber may be placed within its core (as long as it is safely designed and passes required safety analyses) and expose that experiment to nearly an infinite number of unique transients—most notably a reactor pulse. The purpose of this reactor is to experimentally test and observe the response of nuclear materials and fuels as they experience off-normal conditions and to expose these materials and fuels to the point that they could conceivably fail mechanically.
Among a number of parallel efforts prior to the TREAT Facility’s restart, a Department of Energy Integrated Research Project was funded for the purpose of benchmarking the TREAT Facility. The results of the research are published in the June issue of NT, which is free for all ANS members to access at www.ans.org.