DDG Bychkov visits Austrian research reactor

Published Date: 11 Feb 2013

<p></p><p><br>Alexander Bychkov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, visited Austria’s only nuclear facility on 9 January 2013, to receive first-hand information about its activities. The TRIGA Mark-II type research reactor of the Vienna University of Technology’s Atominstitut is commonly known as the “Prater reactor” and serves as a training and research centre not only for the Austrian universities, but also at an international level.</p> <p>Inside the control room: </p><br><p>Situated in Prater, Vienna’s giant recreation area, this is where young scientists from across the world study and practice how to operate a nuclear reactor. The panel on top-right shows the number and configuration of fuel assemblies that are currently inserted in the reactor core.</p> <p></p><br><p>“<em>There are over 60 countries operating research reactors,”</em> said DDG Bychkov during his visit, <em>“whereas the number of countries with nuclear power reactors is only half of this.</em>”</p> <p></p><br><p>“<em>One of the core mission areas of the IAEA is to share good practices for research and development, isotope production and for applied studies. This reactor serves as a good example for IAEA Member States with only research reactors of how such facilities can be fully utilised,”</em> he added. <em>“We are very pleased with the cooperation we enjoy with the Vienna University of Technology research reactor and look forward to continued and improved joint work.</em>”</p> <p></p><br><p>Standing on top of the reactor core and with a dummy fuel rod in his hand, Prof. Helmuth Boeck, the retired manager of the TRIGA reactor, shows how the fuel assemblies and control rods are inserted to the core. In other words, this is how the reactor is operated, controlled and shut down.</p> <p></p><br><p>The core of the Vienna University of Technology TRIGA Mark-II type research reactor. The reactor was converted from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel in 2012. The IAEA collaborated in the project that included both the conversion of the fuel as well as returning the spent HEU fuel back to the USA.</p> <p></p><br><p>Prof. Helmuth Boeck shows DDG Bychkov how they perform quality assurance tests on research reactor fuel rods. As the only nuclear facility in Austria, the research reactor hosts numerous IAEA visitors each year, diplomats, research fellows, and safeguards inspectors being among them.</p> <p></p><br><p>The TRIGA Mark-II type research reactor of the Vienna University of Technology has been working since 1962. It is a pool type reactor used for training, research and isotope production purposes on an average of 220 days per year, hence the acronym TRIGA: “Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics”. There are more than 35 TRIGA research reactors presently operating in the world, eight being in Europe.</p> <p></p><br><p>Prof. Hartmut Abele, Head of the Neutron and Quantum Physics Department at the Vienna University of Technology, presented for his IAEA guests the research and science opportunities that are available at his institute.</p> <p></p><br><p>DDG Bychkov (second left), Nuclear Engineers Sandor Tozser (left) and Mikhail Khoroshev (second right) from the NE Department’s Research Reactor Section, were hosted at the Austrian “Atominstitut” by Prof. Helmuth Boeck (centre) and Prof. Helmut Rauch (right), 9 January 2013.</p>© Story & Photos: Ayhan Evrensel/IAEA