Rapid Turnaround Experiments


Proposal Submittal & Review Schedule

Solicitation period opens 09/17/2018
Proposal due date 10/31/2018

Call closes at 4 p.m. Mountain Time

Selection review completed12/31/2018
Proposals awarded01/15/2018

The NSUF mission is to provide nuclear energy researchers access (at no cost to the researcher) to world-class capabilities to facilitate the advancement of nuclear science and technology. This mission is supported by providing access to state-of-the-art experimental irradiation testing, post irradiation examination facilities, and high performance computing capabilities (FALCON at INL) as well as technical and scientific assistance for the design and execution of projects. Access to NSUF is granted through competitive proposal processes.

Rapid Turnaround Experiment (RTE) awards provide an avenue to examine irradiation effects on nuclear fuels and materials. These awards allow researchers to utilize an NSUF facility to examine fuels or materials of interest.  

Researchers are encouraged to use samples from the NSUF Nuclear Fuels and Materials Library. Sample preparation is routinely completed prior to the visit. Proposals typically request post irradiation examination requiring use of instruments (FIB, TEM, SEM, etc.), synchrotron irradiation, ion beam irradiation, or high performance computing. Neutron irradiation experiments that require the use of ATR, MITR in core positions, or HIFR reactors do not qualify for an RTE award.  

Proposals are solicited and awarded three times per year. Proposals are reviewed and scored for technical merit, relevancy, and feasibility. Awards are made depending on availability of funding.  Further explanation of the review process can be found at RTE Technical Review Process. Proposals must support the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy mission (RTE Research Areas of Interest).  

Requirements for Submitting Proposals 

  • All proposals must achieve a scientific outcome at a requested NSUF facility.  Therefore, proposals requesting only sample preparation and/or shipping will not be accepted.
  • A proposal may request use of only ONE institution. This excludes shipping and initial sample preparation that cannot be performed at the requested institution (e.g., sample preparation at INL for examination at IVEM is acceptable).
    • Caveat: Irradiation will be considered a form of sample preparation if PIE is performed at a NSUF facility.
  • The NSUF will only support activities/shipping at or between NSUF facilities.
  • Only one principal investigator is allowed per proposal.
  • A principal investigator may submit no more than one proposal per call.
  • A principal investigator may only have two active RTE experiments. Additional proposals will not be considered.
  • Proposals involving the examination of more non-irradiated structural or cladding reference samples than irradiated samples will not be accepted.
  • Proposals requiring more than nine months to complete work, from the date of award, will not be accepted.
  • Proposals are open to Principal Investigators affiliated with a U.S. university, government laboratory, domestic entity or foreign entity incorporated in the U.S.  In addition, proposals from Principal Investigators not from a U.S. entity will be accepted as long as the proposal includes a collaborator who is from a U.S. university, government laboratory, domestic entity, or foreign entity incorporated in the U.S and who has a significant role in the experiment or project that supports the RTE.  NSUF will contact the U.S. collaborator to verify their role in the project.
  • Proposers must identify the specific source of R&D funding that will support the RTE access.
  • Proposals must include all publications that the PI and co-PIs have produced as a result of any and all NSUF (RTE, beamline, and CINR) provided experiments or projects.
  • The proposed work should not duplicate any work currently funded by a DOE, or other Federal, program or project.
  • Proposals must include a narrative and team member curriculum vitae.

Failure to meet the above requirements will result in disqualification of proposals.

Guidelines for RTEs Experiments


The purpose of the guidelines are to help researchers develop a proposal that can be executed for less than $50,000.The guidelines are based on the average cost of instrument time at each facility. The guidelines may or may not allow enough headroom for sample preparation or shipping. The guidelines provided are based on a typical work week at each facility and assume that only one instrument is used each day. Proposals that include irradiation and PIE should assume approximately one week for each facility to remain within the suggested $50,000 budget for an RTE (including shipping)

Facility guidelines:

Up to 3 Weeks

  • Microscopy and Characterization Suite (CAES)
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Low Activation Materials Development and Analysis Facility)
  • Materials Characterization Facility (UF)

Up to 2 Weeks

  • Intermediate Voltage Electron Microscopy - Tandem Facility (ANL)
  • Idaho National Laboratory (Analytical Laboratory, Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory) 
  • Churchill Laboratory Services and Hot Cell Facility (Westinghouse)
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Radiochemistry Processing Laboratory, Materials Science and Technology Laboratory, Hot Cells)
  • Nuclear Materials Laboratory (UCB) 
  • Interaction of Materials with Particles and Components Testing Facility (Purdue)
  • Nuclear Services Laboratory (NCSU) 
  • MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory (MIT)
  • Ion Beam Analysis Laboratory (SNL)
  • Nuclear Reactor Laboratory (OSU)
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (CMR Wing 9 Hot Cell, Lujan Center Beamlines, Plutonium Surface Science Laboratory) (LANL)
  • Ion Beam Laboratory (Texas A&M University) 
  • Irradiated Materials Complex, Michigan Ion Beam Laboratory (UM) 
  • Characterization Laboratory for Irradiated Materials, Wisconsin Tandem Accelerator Ion Beam (UW)

Up to 1 Week

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Hot Cells)
  • Idaho National Laboratory (Hot Fuel Examination Facility)
  • FN Tandem Accelerator Facility (LLNL)

Up to 3 Days

  • NSLS II X-ray Powder Diffraction (XPD) Beamline (BNL)

The NSUF is willing to consider staggered proposals for the extended proton-beam irradiation of a sample to high dpa levels at an NSUF site coupled to post irradiation characterization at a second NSUF capability.

Failure to follow the facility guidelines may render your proposal being not feasible.

All awarded RTE instrument time must be scheduled within three months of award. Awarded RTEs must be completed within nine months of the date of the award.

A list of NSUF partners and capabilities can be found here.

More Information

RTE Research Areas of Interest

RTE Review Process

Proposals can be submitted and viewed through MY NSUF on the NSUF home page.