Health physics

Radiological design aspects of the National Ignition Facility.

PMID 23629060


The National Ignition Facility (NIF) has been designed to accommodate some challenging radiological conditions. The high prompt neutron source (up to 1.6 × 10(19) neutrons per shot) results in the need for significant fixed shielding. Concrete shielding approximately 2 m thick is used for the primary (target bay) shield. Penetrations in this shield, including those required for 192 laser beams, utilities, diagnostics, and 19 shielded personnel access doors, make the design challenging. An additional 28 shield doors are part of the secondary shield. In addition, the prompt neutron pulse results in activated air within the target bay, requiring special ventilation considerations. Finally, targets can use a number of hazardous and radioactive materials including tritium, beryllium, and depleted uranium (the latter of which results in the generation of small quantities of fission products). Frequent access is required to the associated potentially contaminated volumes for experimental setup, facilitating the need for local exhaust ventilation to manage these hazards. This paper reviews some of these challenges, design considerations, and the engineering solutions to these design requirements.