UNIVERSITY Park, Pa. — Penn State’s Radiation Science & Engineering Center and the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering broke ground on a 10,000-square-foot, $9.5 million expansion of the Breazeale Reactor on Oct. 21. The nation’s first licensed and longest continuously operating nuclear research reactor, Breazeale’s expansion will accommodate an equipment donation valued at $9.8 million and facilitate more advanced neutron beam research as well as the growth of nuclear engineering at Penn State.
With support from the College of Engineering, the Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering and RSEC will launch a joint initiative as part of the expansion to continue fostering novel studies in fundamental and applied research for Penn State faculty and students, industry and collaborative universities and institutes.
“The Breazeale Reactor has had several upgrades since its founding in 1955,” said Kenan
Ünlü, RSEC director and professor of nuclear engineering. “A significant redesign and installation of five new beam ports was completed in 2018, but we needed a new and expanded neutron beam hall to make full use of the reactor’s capabilities and to establish state-of-the-art neutron beam facilities.”
The upgrades and space will accommodate the Small Angle Neutron Scattering instrument, which will allow researchers to measure how neutrons scatter when they interact with a variety of sample materials. The instrument will also control a variety of parameters to track when investigating different aspects of the samples, revealing information about the materials’ composition and interactions.
The instrument, donated by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin in Germany, will be transferred to Penn State in late spring of 2022 when the new beam hall construction is completed. Installation of the instrument will make Breazeale the only university research reactor with a SANS facility in the United States, according to Ünlü, positioning Penn State as a leader in neutron science.