The NIST Neutron Imaging Facility (NNIF) at the NIST Center for Neutron Research is one of the most advanced neutron imaging facilities in the world and it is the best of its kind in the USA.
The NIST Neutron Imaging Facility (NNIF) at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (see figure 1) is one of the most advanced neutron imaging facilities in the world and it is the best of its kind in the USA. The facility is a national user facility that provides extensive infrastructure for performing fuel cell experiments as well as world class neutron radiography facilities to groups from industry, national laboratories and universities; in 2009 there were users from 21 individual institutions and in 2010 there were users from 14 individual institutions. These groups compete for beam time through a competitive external peer review process. The topics being studied at the facility have expanded significantly. The facility uses cover a diverse set of topics that include the following: Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Storage Beds, Batteries, Biology, Geology, Heat Pipes, Industrial proprietary and Neutron Imaging Methods and Devices Development.
On average facility users spend five days to setup and carry out experiments at the facility. The facility staff train, assist and collaborate scientifically with the users providing all the needed assistance and expertise to utilize the neutron radiography technique effectively in their research. Facility users are trained in radiation safety as well as using software written by NNIF scientists for analyzing image data. Users of the facility have access as well to dedicated expert technicians to setup and assemble mechanical equipment used in experiments. There have been over 40 published peer reviewed journal articles and/or conference presentations on the research performed at the facility in the last two years so far. This facility allows industrial/academic researchers to study systems using the most advanced neutron radiography capabilities, and there have been some recent facility updates that are notable improvements and accomplishments. These include the development of a 10 micrometer resolution detector (see figure 2) as a standard capability for imaging fuel cells, and electro-impedance spectroscopy. An ongoing partnership and collaboration between General Motors and NIST has resulted in an exciting use of neutron imaging to visualize the operation of fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries for automotive vehicle applications. Neutron imaging is an ideal method for visualizing both hydrogen and lithium, the fuel of electric vehicles engines. With a newly developed 10 micrometer spatial resolution detector, studies of the transport phenomena from the anode to the cathode in fuel cells and batteries have been conducted. These unique, fundamental measurements, provide valuable material characterizations that will help improve the performance, increase the reliability, and reduce the time to market introduction of the next generation electric car engines.