The mass separator laboratories house two electromagnetic mass (isotope) separators that consist of an ion source, an electrostatic beam formation system, a mass-dispersion magnet, a collection chamber, a vacuum system, and electronics for operation and control. The separator in B-50 is located within a cage that is interlocked to protect personnel from the reference voltages present during operation. The separator in B-51 utilizes gloveboxes for personnel protection. A closed-loop cooling water system provides cooling for the magnet. Cooling water is re-cooled by a chiller.
Stable isotope mass separator operations are supported by activities performed in a small, inert argon glovebox enclosure. The glovebox consists of a plastic frame with polycarbonate windows and is used to handle nonradioactive air-sensitive materials used as charge materials for the ion sources.
The mass separators are used for isotope purification using both stable materials and nonstable radioisotopes. For operation with actinides, enclosures are used for loading the source and placement and removal of target foils. The separator enclosures in B-50 themselves are not connected to the facility suspect exhaust system. Rather, they are evacuated using vacuum pumps that are connected to the suspect exhaust system. The separator in B-51 utilizes two small gloveboxes for containment and is connected to the suspect exhaust system. The suspect exhaust system has outlet HEPA filters. The mass separator itself is considered the primary containment device and the potential release point for radioactive airborne emissions when an experiment is in progress.
To accomplish the intended research, small quantities (micro- to milligram masses) of compounds containing the isotope of interest are handled in the ion source chamber or as products that are imbedded into high-purity foils.