Atucha 2 supports the neutrino experiment: Corporate

December 07, 2021

A neutrino detection kit has been installed in the containment of Argentina’s Atucha 2 reactor in support of a U.S.-Argentina experiment to learn more about the mysterious particles.

Installation of detectors at Atucha 2 (Image: Nucleoelectrica Argentina)

Atucha 2 is a 693 MWe pressurized heavy water reactor owned and operated by Nucleoelectrica Argentina SA (NA-SA) which has been in service since 2014. Iván Sidelnik from Bariloche Atomic Center said: “We chose Atucha II because it is it has more power and gives us a suitable location very close to the reactor core. “

Nuclear power plants have already been used to study neutrinos, but this is the first experiment to be located inside the containment building.

Neutrinos come from stars all over the universe and are therefore present everywhere, but their very small mass and lack of electrical charge means that they interact little with matter and are therefore difficult to detect and study. Nuclear reactors, however, produce neutrinos with every fission reaction and therefore represent a local and highly concentrated source of harmless particles.

Sidelnik and other scientists in the vIOLETTA project use sensitive CCD Skipper equipment designed and prepared by Fermilab and the Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States. Much like a digital camera, these will be able to detect interactions between neutrinos and a silicon matrix. The experimental set-up will give them information about neutrinos at previously unexplored low-energy ranges.

A complication for vIOLETTA is that the detector must be cooled to -230 ° C, even if it is within 12 meters of Atucha 2, which rotates at around 300 ° C. It must also be protected from the vibrations of the operation of the plant. While the equipment will be monitored remotely, Sidelnik said it would be helpful to have Nucleoelectrica’s trained technicians on-site to provide assistance.

In September of this year, a long-running neutrino experiment at China’s Daya Bay and Ling Ao nuclear power plants was completed. This had seen large detectors placed in protected underground positions. By comparing the results of two sets of detectors, scientists were able to learn more about the interactions between neutrinos that cause some of them to disappear.

Research and writing by World Nuclear News

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