The Michaelmas term of the MPhil in Nuclear Energy culminated with a day of experiments at Imperial College’s CONSORT Reactor which was the perfect complement to classroom studies, cementing the principles learnt in class.
The visit focused on several experiments which outlined the purpose of a CONSORT as a research facility. The application of nuclear technologies in analytical radiochemistry was demonstrated through two deterministic methods of spectroscopy. A gold-foil experiment demonstrated the axial neutron flux distribution and the distortion caused by absorbers, showing how flux measurements can be made for nuclear reactors. Students were responsible for removing each gold pellet, doing the radioactive counting and making the calculations themselves.
The highlight of the trip was a visit to the reactor control room, during which students predicted reactivity and critical rod positions and observed whether their predictions were correct.
Overall, the day provided an insight into possible futures in nuclear research and some of the available tools at our disposal.