Radiation Science and Engineering Center (Breazeale Nuclear Reactor) tour

Radiation Science and Engineering Center (Breazeale Nuclear Reactor) tour

The Penn State Breazeale Reactor (PSBR), which first went critical in 1955, is the nation's longest continuously operating university research reactor. It is part of the Radiation Science and Engineering Center (RSEC), which promotes research, education, and applications of radiation and nuclear science and engineering to students, faculty, and staff at Penn State, as well as to scientists in universities, governments, and industries worldwide. The RSEC facilities also include gamma irradiation facilities (In-pool Irradiator and Dry Irradiator), Neutron Beam Laboratory and Hot Cells, Radionuclear Applications Laboratory with NAA and Compton Suppression system, Radiochemistry Teaching Laboratory, Nuclear Security Education Laboratory, Subcritical Graphite Reactor Facility, and various Radiation Detection and Measurement Laboratories. The RSEC is a unit under the Vice President for Research and the Dean of the College of Engineering at Penn State University. 

The PSBR is a 1 MW TRIGA reactor with pulsing capabilities and a moveable core in a large pool. The core is located in a 24-foot-deep pool with ~71,000 gallons of demineralized water. A variety of dry tubes and fixtures are available in or near the reactor core for irradiations. A pneumatic transfer system is also available for sample irradiation. The PSBR recently installed new core-moderator assembly and new beam ports to make full use of the PSBR’s capabilities and the establishment of state-of-the-art neutron beam facilities. Five new neutron beam ports were installed.  New beam ports are geometrically aligned with the core-moderator assembly for optimum neutron output. The areas envisioned for the RSEC’s new neutron beam port/beam laboratory are for mostly cutting-edge nuclear and materials science research. Some examples include: a NDP facility for depth vs. concentration measurements, impurity determination of He-3 and B-10 in semiconductors, metals, and alloys; a mesitylene-based Cold Neutron Source and Cold Neutron Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis for neutron focusing research, materials characterization, and determination of impurities in historically or technologically important materials; a Neutron Powder Diffractometer or a Small Angle Neutron Scattering for structural determination of materials; and a Triple Axis Diffractometer to train students on neutron diffraction. 

During this tour, a short presentation will be given about the history of PSBR. Visitors will tour the PSBR and some of other RSEC  facilities including the Radionuclear Application Laboratory,  Radiochemistry Laboratory, and Nuclear Security Education Laboratory.  Depending on the schedule, the PSBR pulse (where the reactor power goes to up to 2000 MW for 10 msec) will also be performed. A government-issued photo ID is required to particpate in this tour. 

Logistical information

  • This tour will leave from the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn for the 1.3-mile drive to the PSBR.
  • To arrange transportation assistance, inquire at the check-in desk.


  • $20.00


Sunday, October 27th, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
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Meet Penn State rep in the lobby of the Nittany Lion Inn to board transportation to location.