The Safety and Tritium Applied Research (STAR) facility, located at INEEL's Test Reactor Area, is a multi-purpose research and development laboratory serving the needs of the fusion community for bench-scale and engineering-scale experiments in the area of fusion energy reactors. STAR is an expansion of capability and mission from the Tritium Research Laboratory (TRL) that began operations in 1987 at the INEEL. Typical experiments in the STAR facility include the use of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and other hazardous materials like fluoride salts, beryllium metal and beryllium compounds.
The overall facility provides the capability and flexibility to conduct research with hazardous and moderately radioactive materials in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. The tritium-handling component of the STAR facility has applications to a wide range of projects including cleanup technologies, molten salt research and tritium out-gassing measurements. In addition, the ability to handle other radioactive materials enables a variety of research and development for different programs.
Most Department of Energy laboratories have one or more specialized facilities classified as “National User Facilities.” This designation means arrangements have been made for other institutions to come into the facility and conduct experiments. The National User Facility classification allows non-DOE programs to use the facility on a pay-per-use basis. Users of the STAR may include university faculty and graduate students, scientists in small business organizations or large businesses, and researchers from other DOE laboratoriesand national institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). International users and collaboration is expected.
Specifics of the Facility
STAR facility hi-bay building
The STAR facility will increase the tritium research laboratory space by including 200 m2 from an adjacent and connected building. Safety regulations for the STAR facility will allow a maximum tritium inventory of 16,000 Ci with thousands of Ci's to be used in individual experiments. A tritium recovery system will be implemented to remove tritium from glove-box atmospheres and minimize the release of tritium to the laboratory exhaust. In addition, a tritium assay system will be implemented to quantify tritium receipt and use in the various experiments.
Initial research plans for the STAR facility include investigations of plasma surface interactions with the Tritium Plasma Experiment (see photo below), which will be transferred from the Los Alamos National Laboratory to the INEEL during 2001. Other planned work includes:
- investigations of tritium behavior and corrosion effects,
- molten fluoride salt safety issues as part of the JUPITER-II Japan/U.S. cooperative program on irradiation tests for fusion research,
- traditional fusion safety experiments.
Tritium Plasma Experiment