Shielded Analytical Laboratory Hot Cells
The analytical lab has six shielded hot cells for receiving and analyzing highly radioactive materials. The hot cells are made of two feet thick, high-density concrete, with leaded glass shielding windows. The cells underwent a safety upgrade in 1993. A pneumatic transfer system brings samples to the hot cells from other facilities or moves finished samples to a waste cask for disposal. The NMCD hot cells include:
- Cell 1: Sample Receiving – Samples are received using a pneumatic system
- Cell 2: Sample Dissolution – Samples or small portions of samples are dissolved
- Cell 3: Sample Storage – A rotating sample rack is used for sample storage
- Cell 4: Gamma Spectroscopy – Some samples are too radioactive to be taken to the counting lab. Therefore, a gamma spectrometer is used to count hot samples inside the hot cell. For fuel pins, the cell contains a micro gamma scanner, which only measures a small area of the sample at a time, while the sample is moved very slowly past, at a rate of approximately 0.5 millimeters per second.
- Cell 5: Used for Multi-Programmatic R&D Instrumentation
- Cell 6: Transfer Tube to Lead-Shielded ICP-AES Glovebox – Once the samples have been prepared in the hot cell, they can be transferred to the ICP-AES glovebox without removal from the hot cell
A chain-driven cart moves samples from one cell to the next, and the manipulators allow staff to work with the samples without danger of exposure.