Nuclear Science User Facilities 12 NSUF consortium that exists today is one of its greatest achievements.The range of facility representation and capabilities in the NSUF consortium from universities, national laboratories, and even industry is very unique and quite impressive, encompassing a broad range of irradiated materials science. In late 2016, the NSUF established an international partnership agreement with the Belgium research reactor to further expand its research infrastructure capabilities.And new capabilities and facilities are being examined yearly, all in an effort to continuously support the nuclear stakeholder community and provide the necessary access to support the advancement of nuclear energy. The NSUF also took on the challenge to develop and maintain the Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Database, which was no small feat, and was able to release this unique capability in FY 2016.We’ve received feedback from both users and facilities that the database does a great job identifying relevant nuclear related infrastructure. Building upon that success, the Nuclear Fuels and Materials Library will further assist researchers by identifying available irradiated specimens to examine at those available facilities. Q:Where do you see the NSUF’s best opportunities? A:The NSUF’s best opportunities are the access the program provides for researchers to unique nuclear irradiation and post-irradiation examination capabilities – not only to the physical instruments, but the knowledge, data, and expertise of the people operating these facilities and equipment. Being the link between all of those components will truly help the understanding and advancement of nuclear energy. Q:What are challenges facing the NSUF? A: The current challenge, and I think this is an agreement across the community, is the availability of neutrons.The NSUF originally began as a way to provide access to the AdvancedTest Reactor, but space in the reactor has become limited in recent years. Limited space at the nation’s top materials test reactor is, of course, reflective of the revitalization of nuclear energy, but it has also made the NSUF look at alternatives for meeting the community’s demand.To help offset the demand for the ATR, the NSUF is partnered with a number of test reactors within the United States and has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Belgian Research Reactor in Belgium. Q:The Nuclear Fuels and Materials Library in FY 2016 evolved from spreadsheet data to an online database searchable by researchers.How do you foresee the NFML benefiting DOE-NE? A: I see this capability as one more component to the NSUF’s access.We already discussed the NEID and this database will further assist the user community in accessing necessary irradiated materials that have a known pedigree.Those samples come from industry, national laboratories, previously funded NSUF projects, and samples that have been identified by the community for the NSUF to irradiate through a series of Sample Library (SAM) experiments.As to how it benefits DOE-NE, we’re able to allocate more funding to more awards through the use of this database.That is a great advantage for everyone. Q:How is the NSUF viewed by DOE-NE? A: DOE-NE relies on the NSUF to make those connections to physical equipment, samples, researchers, knowledge, data, and other aspects within the nuclear energy research framework. Because of this, we look at the NSUF as the vital partner to the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative to help the advancement of nuclear energy.The NSUF provides that lower level Technology Readiness Level (TRL) research that supports the greater industry. Q:If you look into your crystal ball,what changes do you see in store for the NSUF over the next ten years? A: The NSUF is currently focused on irradiated materials characterization, which will certainly provide the data needed by the advanced reactor community. Moving forward, it is important to look at what other research infrastructure is needed by the stakeholder community, whether this capability is available within the laboratory and university community, and whether DOE investment in this capability is necessary. The NSUF team has been doing this with a focus on irradiated materials and now is expanding to look at other nuclear science areas.As we move forward, the NSUF team will be looking to support the advancement of nuclear energy across a broad array of R&D areas, such as thermal hydraulics and other related advanced reactors areas.