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Strategic Materials Lab

Strategic Materials Lab

BWXT maintains extensive facilities for analyzing and testing radioactive materials at the Lynchburg Technology Center located in Virginia.

The Strategic Materials Laboratory (SML) is a radiologically controlled area where nuclear and non-nuclear materials are processed and evaluated. The laboratory is used to develop and test nuclear fuel and related components as part of the Nuclear Materials & Inspections Systems at the facility.

BACKGROUND

For more than 40 years BWXT’s Lynchburg Technology Center has supported the company’s interest in the nuclear industry.

The SML was built for processing, developing, and testing advanced nuclear fuels and its components in the late 1980’s under the U.S. Air Force Space Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Program.

The laboratory supported developing and testing coated particle fuel for advanced particle-bed reactors. Other notable projects include high temperature fuel development for advanced reactors, solar bimodal propulsion, and work on Russian high temperature fuel.

CAPABILITIES

Nuclear and non-nuclear materials can be processed, tested, and characterized in the SML by our staff of metallurgists, ceramists and technicians. We support internal and external customers.

Laboratory test facilities include:

  • High-temperature (>3000°C) exposure in inert gas of 100% hydrogen
  • Deformation (plasticity)
  • Static and dynamic compression
  • Bed thermal expansion
  • Thermal stability / interaction / compatibility • Cyclic temperature
  • Melt-point determinations

Processing facilities include:

  • High temperature induction furnaces
  • High temperature graphite furnace
  • Hot isostatic pressing
  • Cold isostatic pressing
  • Chemical vapor desposition / infiltration
  • Supercritical fluid infiltration
  • Hot machining

Other section facilities include:

  • Scanning electron microscopy with x-ray microanalysis (EDS/WDS)
  • Hot cell facilities (rated to 300,000 curies)
  • Electron microprobe
  • Mechanical testing

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