Oregon State University Radiation Center

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Oregon State University Radiation Center
The Oregon State University Radiation Center (OSURC) is a research facility that houses a nuclear reactor at Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis, Oregon, United States. The Oregon State TRIGA Reactor (OSTR) serves the research needs of the OSU nuclear engineering department along with other departments (notably medical applications). The University harnesses power in other creative ways: the student recreation center is one of the first in the country to have retrofitted elliptical exercise machines that collect the power generated by students. About 70% of the research projects at the OSU Radiation Center use the reactor.

Reactor overview
The radiation center is located on the west side of the OSU campus, across the street from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offices and about half a mile from Reser Stadium. The reactor is a Mark II TRIGA reactor with a maximum thermal output of 1.1 MW and can be pulsed up to a power of 3000 MW for a very short time. The fuel is low enriched uranium. Operation began in 1967. The reactor supported 96 academic courses in 1999. These courses were in chemistry, civil engineering, chemical engineering, geosciences, oceanography and atmospheric sciences, bioresource engineering, honors college and naval engineering disciplines. The OSU Radiation center supported 126 projects in 2000 with 69% directly involving use of the OSTR. Contracts supporting these projects in 2000 totaled $3 million. The mission statement of the center is To serve as the campus wide teaching, research, and service facility for programs involving the use of ionizing radiation and radioactive materials.

Thermal neutron column
There is a large graphite slab that serves the purpose of diffusing neutrons from the reactor which can then be used in Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT).

Radioisotope production
The OSURC has a special gas irradiation facility where the reactor can produce Ar-41 gas and ship it to anywhere within 24 hours. The OSTR has beamports available with fluxes of 1.8 x 10 7 to 1.5 x 10 8 .

Oregon Department of Energy has coordinated the HAZMAT Radiological Training Courses at the center for HAZMAT response teams throughout the state of Oregon for the last 15 years. Further, instead of only having a Public Safety force on campus and/or local Police, OSU's primary security force are Oregon State Police, making Oregon State University the only known University to employ State Troopers for security.

Forensic analysis
The reactor has also used Neutron activation analysis to help with the forensic analysis in a high profile serial killer case (the I-5 Bandit) and several other cases, including one where a local district attorney used the center's services to help solve a high profile triple homicide case.

The following are some ongoing projects in conjunction with the reactor:
  • Neutron activation analysis
  • Radiotracer techniques
  • Medical isotope development and production
  • Geological age dating
  • Neutron radiography
  • Thermal hydraulics of nuclear steam systems
  • Radiation sterilization
  • Radiation dosimeter testing
  • Boron Neutron Capture Therapy
  • Radiochemical methodologies