Test facilities require human capital to make them pay off in research and development. With two new facilities coming online this year, and reconfiguring of current ones, the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE) in the College of Engineering at Oregon State has added research faculty. Guillaume Mignot (Ph.D., Nuclear Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison) marks the fourth associate professor, senior researcher hire in the 2016-2017 academic year. He joins Izabela Gutowska, Seth Cadell, and Dan LaBrier.
Mignot is in charge of managing and operating the new Nuclear Reactor Test Loop (NRTL) facility. “We are going to test new pumps they want to use in the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Laboratory,” he says. The Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) “has provided the critical testing capability that has helped develop the U.S. Navy's nuclear propulsion program [and the] Navy remains a key customer and user of ATR,” according to the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) website.
To support ongoing naval research, the ATR is scheduled to replace the current pumps which have run for more than 45 years. The pumps circulate coolant through its test loops. These new pumps must first be commissioned and rigorously tested. That’s where the NRTL facility at Oregon State comes in.
“The story is they asked someone to commission these pumps and [it’s difficult], because the conditions are quite high temperature, high pressure and they have a lot of requirements that are not so easy, and they have to be also following the quality assurance” Mignot says. The pumps have been built and tested under cold conditions by the manufacturer Edward and Tyler, and now come to Oregon State for high-temperature, high-pressure testing following Nuclear Quality Assurance (NQA-1) Certification guidelines. “We’ll push the extreme,” Mignot says.
The NRTL is currently being constructed in an existing high-bay facility at the Radiation Center on the Oregon State Corvallis campus. It will measure approximately 20 feet high with a 100-square-foot footprint and be capable of reproducing the water temperature and pressure that exists at the ATR. The NRTL was designed by NSE Associate Professor Wade Marcum and manufactured by Harris Thermal Transfer Products in Newberg Oregon.
Mignot will oversee the full testing of 11 smaller pumps and 5 larger pumps. “They will be long-lasting tests, the longest being about 1,000 hours nonstop, monitoring everything, making sure there’s no fatigue and wearing of the bearing and things like this,” he says. “Because if they cannot stand these kinds of tests, they will not be able to work in the ATR.”
Pending successful testing of each pump, it will then be sent, along with all testing documentation, to INL for installation in the ATR.
Mignot comes to Oregon State following nine years at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland where he managed experiments and experimental facilities for a variety of nuclear-related projects.
— Jens Odegaard.