China's High Intensity Neutron Source

June 29, 2018

The High Intensity Neutron Source (HINEG) at the Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety Technology (INEST), Chinese Academy of Sciences is open for cooperative international experiments. See summary below and contact Zhibin Chen for more information: zhibin.chen@fds.org.cn

As an essential experimental platform, the neutron source can produce 14.1 MeV mono-energetic neutrons, which is consistent with the fusion neutron environment. Furthermore, the moderated neutron can be used to simulate the neutron environment of advanced fission reactors for nuclear safety experimental research, as well as neutron technology applications.

Recently, A High Intensity Neutron Generator (HINEG) has been built at the Institute of Nuclear Energy Safety Technology (INEST), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) by Prof. Yican WU’s team. The HINEG-I is developed with both steady and pulse lines. The D-T neutron yield has reached 6.4×1012 n/s, which is the highest among the other under-operation fusion neutron sources all over the world.

HINEG-I is focusing on basic research of neutronics and technology, including nuclear data, verification and validation of methods, software, radiation protection, and neutron applications. Meanwhile, HINEG-I has also successfully operated coupling with the China Lead based Zero-Power Sub-critical/Critical Fission Reactor (CLEAR-0), which can be used to perform physical and engineering validation of advanced nuclear energy systems such as accelerator-driven subcritical system, or fusion-fission hybrid systems.

Currently, a series of experiments have been carried out, including a number of international cooperations. For example,

  1. A neutronics experiment of dual function lithium-lead test blanket module (DFLL-TBM) mockup was carried out on HINEG, which is a full scale neutronics validation experiment for liquid breeder blanket. The tritium production ratio and neutron flux distribution obtained from this experiment could provide effective data support for neutronics design optimization and neutronics software validation for ITER project. In addition, experiments for other types of blankets is ongoing.

  2. Neutrons could damage the normal human cells, because they cause more double-strand breaks of DNA than γ rays which are difficult to be repaired. However, based on HINEG, it is found that heme oxygenase (HO-1) can alleviate cells from neutron induced DNA damage. The study provides a potential way for low-dose neutron radiation protection.

  3. Fast Neutron radiography is an effective non-destructive testing technique, which has high penetrability and can detect light materials in thick heavy metal. The fast neutron radiography experiments indicate contrast sensitivity <10% and spatial resolution <0.5 mm, which can be used in the detection of nuclear fuel, turbine blade, concrete corrosion, antiques, etc.
HINEG is an open experimental platform for scholars all over the world. Cooperative experiments are always greatly welcomed. Moreover, the INEST have also proposed and designed HINEG-II and HINEG-III with neutron yields of 1015~1016 n/s and more 1018 n/s, which will focus on material irradiation damage, neutronics performance of key components, and the multi-physics coupling test.