The proposed Materials Test Station, to be built at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center, will use the high-power proton beam from the LANSCE accelerator to create an intense neutron irradiation environment for nuclear materials testing. The primary mission is to test advanced fuels and materials for fast reactor applications, including fuels bearing minor actinides, in support of the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy's Fuel Cycle R&D program. Damage rates of up to 15 dpa per year in iron can be achieved within the fuel irradiation region. Not only can the MTS perform integral testing of fuel rodlets subjected to prototypic fast reactor conditions, it is also well suited to conducting separate effects experiments that are critically important to understanding the underlying processes that contribute to fuel aging and ultimately fuel failure. Separate effects testing of the type than can be conducted in MTS can validate modeling efforts that are used to simulate fuel performance.
Eric Pitcher earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan in 1992. He has been employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1982, having started with the Undergraduate Student program. He converted from a postdoctoral position to a staff member in 1993. His technical area of expertise is spallation neutron source design, with an emphasis on modeling source performance using Monte Carlo radiation transport codes. In 2004, he was named the Deputy Group Leader (and later Acting Group Leader) of the Nuclear Physics group within the Lab’s Theoretical Division, and in 2005 he assumed his current position as Manager of the Materials Test Station project. He is an active member of the American Nuclear Society’s Accelerator Applications Division, having served on its Executive Committee for five years, including one year as the Chair (2007–2008). In 2004, he participated in an IAEA Specialist’s Meeting on the technology and use of low-energy accelerator-driven neutron sources. He has served on a number of review committees, including a “Temple Review” of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source target station in 1999 and Michigan State University’s Facility for Radioactive Ion Beams target station in 2010. He has authored or co-authored over 20 journal articles and more than 80 papers in conference proceedings.