DOE-supported nuclear data benchmarking will support diverse missions

September 15, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced $5.8 million in funding on September 13 for five projects to benchmark nuclear data for a range of nuclear science investigations and applications, including energy, space exploration, and nonproliferation. Four of the five funded projects include participation from Brookhaven National Laboratory.

In addition to improving nuclear data benchmarks, projects funded under the award will also be used to improve the curation of new and legacy data collected at experimental facilities, according to the announcement. The projects include research related to impacts of improved nuclear data for nuclear reactors, improved reaction data on elements critical for basic science and space exploration, and improved decay data evaluation and curation for new and legacy data.

“Nuclear data [are] important in both basic nuclear science and applications,” said Timothy Hallman, DOE associate director of science for nuclear physics. “Improved benchmark data provide critical information that can be used to enhance designs for applications, making them safer, more efficient, and more cost effective. Improvement in data curation is a core function of the U.S. Nuclear Data Program which, as an Office of Science Public Reusable Research (PuRe) data resource, responds to approximately ten million requests annually for nuclear data for users in basic science and applications.”

The call for data: Five projects were selected by competitive peer review under a DOE funding opportunity announcement for the Nuclear Data Interagency Working Group (NDIAWG) Research Program.

The FOA lists areas of interest for DOE-SC’s Office of Nuclear Physics, including quasi-integral experiments; subcritical experiments; neutron capture gammas; data for advanced reactors (including space-based reactors), including data to predict source terms and shielding requirements, material activation and decay, and materials damage; and improved sensitivity coefficients.

In addition, the DOE’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D has identified gaps in nuclear data relevant to nonproliferation missions. Projects carried out at DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration laboratories could help resolve gaps in data relevant to safeguards, arms control verification, and forensics applications, according to the FOA.

The awardees: Total funding is $5.8 million for projects lasting up to three years, with $2.8 million in fiscal year 2023 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. More information on the projects listed here can be found on the Nuclear Physics homepage.

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL)—“Accelerated decay data evaluation and development of an adopted decay data library.”
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory—“Benchmarking and validating cosmogenic activation models.”
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and BNL—“Development of benchmark measurements for capture gamma cascades.”
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory and BNL—“Impact of nuclear data on advanced nuclear energy systems safety and operation.”
  • The Johns Hopkins University, Catholic University of America, BNL, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory—“The Berkeley Atlas: A database of absolute cross sections for inelastic, gamma-ray production with 14 MeV neutrons.”

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