Latest information and updates about COVID-19 (coronavirus) from McMaster University
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster Logo McMaster logo

McMaster Nuclear Reactor

 

The McMaster Nuclear Reactor is an open-pool type Materials Test Reactor (MTR) with a core of low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel that is moderated and cooled by light water. Primary and secondary cooling systems act to remove the heat that is generated in the core of the reactor, with external cooling towers acting as the ultimate thermal sink.

The McMaster Nuclear Reactor is an open-pool type Materials Test Reactor (MTR) with a core of low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel that is moderated and cooled by light water. Primary and secondary cooling systems act to remove the heat that is generated in the core of the reactor, with external cooling towers acting as the ultimate thermal sink. The reactor is housed within a concrete containment building and generally operates weekdays from 8 a.m. until 12 midnight at a thermal power of 3 MW.

The nuclear reactor was designed with its end use as a multi-purpose research facility in mind. Its open-pool design provides ready access to the reactor core and allows for easy insertion and removal of samples for neutron irradiation, imparting a degree of flexibility that many other classes of reactors lack. As well, several beam-tubes were built into the reactor structure: today, the neutron beams extracted by these tubes are used for applications including neutron radiography and neutron diffraction experiments. MNR also has an industrial hot cell inside the reactor containment building for handling highly radioactive samples.

Staff at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor conduct hundreds of thousands of neutron irradiations every year, many in support of industry (mining exploration, environmental samples). MNR is a world leader in the production of iodine-125, a radioactive isotope that is used in the treatment of prostate cancer, with hundreds of doses produced each week. Neutrons from MNR are also used by Nray Services Inc. to conduct quality assurance testing on turbine blades for jet engines using the neutron radiography facility at one of the beam-ports. Research activities at MNR continue to expand, with a new neutron diffractometer installed in 2009 and a state of the art positron beam facility currently being designed.

VISIT WEBSITE