The Rhode Island Nuclear Science Center (RINSC) is located on the Narragansett Bay Campus of the University of Rhode Island. The RINSC research reactor achieved initial criticality in 1964 as a 1 MW, highly enriched uranium fueled reactor. In 1968 the facility underwent a power upgrade to 2 MW, making it one of the highest flux university reactors in the United States. In 1993, RINSC converted from high enriched uranium fuel, to an advanced design low enriched uranium core that has improved the neutron spectrum that it produces.
The reactor was constructed with the intention that it would be utilized by all of the universities in the State of Rhode Island. The oversight commission for the facility has representatives from the University of Rhode Island, Brown University, and Providence College. Historically, RINSC has been used by these universities as an analytical tool for research. Atmospheric Chemists have been using the reactor to help them determine how air pollution migrates around the world. Oceanographers are using the facility to measure trace metal levels in marine tissues and sediments. The university Physics departments have been utilizing neutron beams for studying the atomic layer of oils on substrates, as well as for using neutron scattering to look at internal stresses and defects of materials, and for neutron radiography. Over 100 graduate degrees have been awarded as a result of the reactor being located at URI.
Additionally, the facility has made an effort to bolster public perception of the nuclear energy industry by providing educational tours to schools and civic groups within, and outside the State of Rhode Island. As the state's only nuclear facility, the RINSC staff provides assistance to the State Emergency Management Agency, and to the State Radiation Control Agency on radiological health matters.
RINSC is presently working toward gaining a foothold in the biomedical industry. BNCT is an on going research project that we are attacking from various fronts. We are working in collaboration with Purdue University and Argonne National Laboratory to develop an improved neutron beam filter. Furthermore, we are working with researchers from Brown University, Roger Williams Medical Center, and the Rhode Island Cancer Council to develop a better compound for delivering the active agent that localizes the radiation that kills the cancer cells. BNCT is not the only biomedical application that RINSC is involved in. Our staff is working with a small company that is doing biomedical uptake studies with non-radioactive tracers, which can be collected and analyzed using neutron activation analysis, after the tracers have been excreted from the patient. This appears to be a promising technique for a variety of applications in the pharmaceutical and medical diagnostic industries.
In the near future, RINSC intends to upgrade it's maximum licensed power to 5 MW. We believe that this will enhance our ability to serve the research and education community needs of the future.
The RINSC reactor was built in 1960 and went critical in 1964. It is a 2 Mega-Watt, light water cooled, pool type reactor. For over 50 years it has provided valuable data to researchers and students. Over 100 graduate degrees have been awarded for research conducted at theRINSC. Research areas include, Physics, Engineering, Biology, and Atmospheric Chemistry.
The RINSC also serves as a center for education. Tours introduce students of all ages to the field of nuclear science and condensed matter physics. Our internship program allows undergraduate students to work with the RINSC staff to maintain and operate the reactor.