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Calibration Research & Accreditation


The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) maintains a Radiological Calibration and Standards Laboratory on the Hanford Site at Richland Washington. Laboratory staff provides expertise and experience in Health Physics, Radiation Measurements, Dosimetry and Calibrations. Tangential groups also provide expertise in Monte Carlo modeling/simulations, detector development, sample counting and radiochemical analysis, which have benefitted the calibration laboratory in the characterization of its facilities. These groups are available for client benefit as well, although they are not affiliated with the accredited processes, per se.

The Calibration Research and Accreditation Group (CR&A), which is in the PNNL Energy and Environment Directorate, offers technical expertise for the configuration and protocol planning for calibration or testing of radiation-measuring devices as well as irradiation of other artifacts for radiation induced effects, response, resiliency (i.e., radiation “hardness”), etc. Organic and inorganic samples can be irradiated for research purposes.

Beta Standards Laboratory

The Beta laboratory contains Buchler GmbH calibration apparatus for use with PTB, Amersham, or other ISO-6980 Series I compliant sources. The original PTB (German National Standards Laboratory) supplied sources and irradiation apparatus compose an international secondary standard for beta irradiations.


A second beta system utilizing a modified Beta Secondary Standard BSS2 system adds the 85Kr exposure capability to the Calibration Laboratory.

X-Ray Facility

The x-ray facility consists of a shielded control room and a 4.7 m x 12.6 m x 4 m irradiation room. Two identical Philips Model 324 x-ray machines are currently in use for dosimeter irradiations and instrument calibrations. One of the machines produces bremsstrahlung (broad) spectra NIST and ISO techniques while the other is configured to produce K-fluorescence (narrow) techniques.

View a list of currently available Techniques.


137Cs, 60Co and 241Am Gamma Facilities

JL Shepherd Model 81 Irradiator - The gamma field produced in this facility is generated by a 137Cs source (nominal activity of 100 Ci) used within a collimated geometry (30 collimation angle). The source is calibrated specifically at 1- and 3-meters and the beam is unobstructed until it encounters a concrete wall at a distance of approximately 5.5-meters.

High Exposure Facility - The gamma fields produced in this facility are generated by two 137Cs sources (nominal activities of 10 and 100 Ci) and two 60Co sources (nominal activities of 660 and 5890 Ci) used within a collimated geometry (30 collimation angle). The calibration range extends to approximately six meters, with the beam unobstructed until it encounters a concrete wall at a distance of approximately 8.2 meters.

241Am Irradiator - This source, with a primary photon energy of 60 keV, produces a nominal exposure rate of 119 mr/hr.

Low Scatter Room

The low scatter room is a large irradiation area housing neutron and gamma irradiation stations with an extremely low room scatter component. The room has concrete walls and is approximately 10 m x 9 m x 15 m. The neutron irradiation station is mounted on a raised aluminum platform in the approximate geometric center of the room. A pneumatically driven "rabbit" system is used to move sources from their storage location to the irradiation station.

Source Well Room

This room contains four calibration source wells, each 0.3 m in diameter by 10 m deep, with trolley-mounted radionuclide sources. Trolley movement is controlled by a dedicated personal computer programmed to position the source to achieve the desired exposure or dose rate at the top of the well. These wells provide automatic compensation for temperature, pressure, and source decay as well as the ability to automate positioning for specific instruments. Three 137Cs gamma sources and one 252Cf neutron source are available in a well geometry. The neutron well is calibrated against the low-scatter facility to provide a free-field equivalent result.


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