On Saturday members of R&D headed to south western Sydney on an excursion to ANSTO, the centre of nuclear science, research and development in Australia. ANSTO hosts Australia’s only nuclear reactor OPAL, the ANTARES particle accelerator, the Neutron Guide hall and it’s suit of instruments and many other experiments and facilities.
At the Visitor Centre we were greeted by Professor Proton who gave a fantastic demonstration on the basics of nuclear science and the design of the OPAL reactor. We then travelled by bus into the secure site where we inspected a number of instruments and facilities such as: OPAL nuclear reactor:
- The tour included an intimate view inside the reactor with a high resolution remotely controlled panning/zooming camera.
- Not used for power generation, produces no electricty.
- Used as a highly controlled neutron source for scientific and industrial applications.
- Neutron beams from this reactor feed the suite of instruments housed in the Neuton Beam Guide Hall.
- Irradiates large crystals of silicon for the global semi-conductor industry in a process called Neutron Transmutation Doping.
ANTARES particle accelerator:
- This relatively small accelerator is optimised for beam analysis for carbon dating and materials analysis.
- Vaporises a sample then shoots the resulting ions at high speed to ascertain the exact makeup of the sample.
Neutron Guide Hall:
- Neutron scattering techniques permit scientists to explore the structure and dynamics of materials under different conditions at atomic or molecular levels.
Due to security restrictions we were not able to bring any cameras beyond the visitor centre so the pictures of OPAL, ANTARES and the Neutron Guide Hall were ruthlessly stolen from the ANSTO website. Many thanks to ANSTO for providing free tours of such an amazing facility and Tristan Steele for helping organise it. For information on ANSTO tours see here: ttp://www.ansto.gov.au/discovering_ansto/visiting_ansto/ansto_tours