Category Archives: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities for. Converting U. S. and Russian Research Reactors

RESEARCH REACTORS

Following U. S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 Atoms for Peace speech to the United Nations (Eisenhower, 1953), the U. S. and Russia exported research reactors to about 40 countries. At present, the IAEA lists 254 operational research reactors in 55 countries (Adelfang, 2011; see Figure 1-1). According to the IAEA, 75 civilian research reactors (excluding defense and icebreaker reactors) are […]

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Neutronics Analysis

A number of key neutronics analyses were performed for a range of reactor core states, including the beginning-of-life, middle-of-life, and end- of-life states. These studies included analyses of: • Power distributions (for use in the thermal/hydraulic analyses), in­cluding (1) total fuel assembly power and core power distributions; and (2) axial and radial power distributions in the maximum power fuel assembly;

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RPI Research Reactor

The RPI research reactor is licensed to operate at 1 MW power and has a peak flux of about 3.1 x 1013 n/cm2-s. The core was converted from a 93 percent enriched UAlx-aluminum dispersion fuel to 19.75 percent enriched uranium silicide (U3Si2)-aluminum dispersion fuel in 2007. The LEU fuel contains slightly more uranium-235 than the HEU fuel it replaced to […]

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LEU Fuel Design and Testing

There are remaining fuel development and fabrication challenges asso­ciated with producing the UMo monolithic LEU fuel that will be required to convert HFIR: • Fuel development is still under way, and the results will affect the final LEU fuel design. A fuel irradiation test series is currently ongoing at Idaho National Laboratory (INL); ORNL expects that this testing (which includes […]

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Reactors at the Kurchatov Institute[42]. E. P. Ryazantsev

The practical use of atomic energy for civilian and military purposes in the Soviet Union began with the launching of research reactor F-1 in December 1946. The reactor is graphite moderated and is fueled with 50 tonnes of natural uranium. Its operational range extends from 25 kW to 4 MW. This reactor is still operating today and is used as […]

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FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA

Near the close of the symposium, participants were asked to summarize important ideas that had been mentioned over the preceding three days and to identify potential future opportunities for both the United States and Russia on the conversion of research reactors from HEU to LEU fuel. During this discussion, many key points were brought up by individuals in attendance at […]

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RESEARCH REACTOR CONVERSION

The United States and the Russian Federation have had active efforts to convert research reactors from HEU fuel to LEU fuel for more than 30 years. The history of these conversion efforts is outlined in the following section, followed by a brief discussion of the current state of research reac­tor conversion efforts in both countries.

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Other Challenges2

The identified changes in power, nuclear characteristics, and fuel weight will affect the HFIR facility infrastructure. At present, it appears that ORNL will need to: (1) increase the capacity of the cooling tower and the cold source helium refrigerator; (2) modify the reactor instrumentation and control systems to manage the increased heat load; (3) modify the fuel handling tools; and […]

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