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The HFIR Facility

At 85 MW, the ORNL High Flux Isotope Reactor is the highest flux reactor-based source of neutrons for condensed matter research in the United States, and it provides one of the highest steady-state neutron fluxes of any research reactor in the world. The thermal and cold neutrons produced by HFIR are used to study physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and biology. The intense neutron flux, constant power density, and constant-length fuel cycles are used by more than 200 researchers each year for neutron scattering research into the fundamental properties of condensed matter.

The neutron scattering research facilities at HFIR contain a world-class collection of instruments and unique thermal-neutron scattering capabilities used for fundamental and applied research on the structure and dynamics of matter. The reactor is also used for medical, industrial, and research isotope production; research on severe neutron damage to materials; and neutron activation to examine trace elements in the environment.


HFIR is currently undergoing a major upgrade, including installation of a cold source and new world-class instruments. Substantial improvements are also being made to existing instruments and to the general facility. For the last year, the facility has been shutdown for installation and relicensing with the cold source. We anticipate that steady-state operations will eventually provide neutron beams for eight to ten reactor cycles per year and that, with regular operations, the next major shutdown for a beryllium reflector replacement will not be necessary until after 2020. In principle, it is possible to install a cold source in radial beam tube HB-2, which would provide an unparalleled flux of cold neutrons feeding instruments in a new guide hall. In the meantime, HFIR users will soon be able to access thermal and cold neutron beams of world-class brightness.

Click for larger image of HFIR Aerial Photo.

  Information Contact: neutronscience@ornl.gov  

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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