The State Corporation ‘Rosatom’ begins the international road-show of the project project of the most powerful multi-functional research reactor in the world for attraction of foreign partners and implementation of their scientific programs. The road-show includes not only presentations before attraction of investments, but also a permanent dialogue between the company and its potential investors.
Olga Korchagina, Counselor in the block on the innovation management of the State Corporation ‘Rosatom’, explained that usually, when we speak of a nuclear reactor, people think we are talking about a nuclear power plant. In fact, the reactor can be used in different ways. Research reactors are a special type. Technically, of course, it is the same reactor, and it can also produce electricity. Such byproduct. But the main purpose of the research reactor is to produce neutron flux so the scientists can carry out various experiments.
In general, research reactors can be used in various areas, but the majority, of course, are used for the materials science. This is a testing of structural materials for nuclear power stations, including in the space field. Where else can the powerful nuclear radiation be used? The new species can be created. The changing of the material properties under the electron beam exposure. The medicine is actively interested in the processes of the nuclear production. And of course, the research reactors are used for the educational purposes.
“Globally, the research reactors, in principle, are quite numerous. This if we not take into account their specificity. Many reactors exist in the research institutes at universities. They are used for training. This is usually a small capacity reactor, specialized for educational purposes. There are specialized reactors for isotope production. And a considerable number of the reactor’s list are used for the common materials science, which also differ in the type and capacity,” Korchagina says.
It is more powerful reactors, which have the ability to perform all of the types of experiments desired by the researcher. And the number of these reactors is not very high. After analyzing the entire list, it was evident that the most of them were built in 60s. The main part of reactors was built in 60s and 70s. The Chinese CEFR is falling out from this list a little bit, which is, in principle, also claimed to be a research reactor, but initially it is a prototype, although many prototypes later turned into research reactors, yet it requires some refinement, and we include it in the list of the research reactors.
“Taking into account that the reactors are aging, it is logical that we should introduce new capacity by building new reactors. But the situation is not so rosy. First, the geographical location is slightly changing. The countries that used to be somewhere in the end of the list of interests are coming to the forefront, they now take an active interest in nuclear energy, including research reactors. Still, they start with the reactors that are not that powerful, they start with modest capacities. Russia and France keeps the main interest. France is also very active in the research reactors and interested in developing and presenting this direction. They already started to build the reactor a long time ago. The commissioning of the reactor is planned for 2018,” Korchagina states.
According to her, a bright spot in this field is a project of the research reactor in Russia, the multi-purpose fast research reactor. It was built at the base and at the site of the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad: “After the French fast reactors were closed, it is the only one in the world. And apparently, it will be such for a long time. Both it and we hope its successor MBIR as well. The construction of MBIR is implemented within the framework of the federal target program of nuclear power technologies of new generation until 2020. The MBIR will be the most powerful research reactor according to the neutron flux, and will have one of the most advanced equipment for the proposed research.”