Research Reactor Section
IAEA Support of Research Reactor HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion
Conversion of the RR cores (10 MW and Critical Facility) in Tajoura, Libya was performed under a direct government-to-government agreement and not as a specific IAEA conversion project. Nevertheless, the government of Libya requested assistance from the IAEA to assess the quality of the proposed LEU IRT-4M replacement fuel, and implement poolside inspection capabilities at Tajoura.
The Agency appointed an appropriate independent fuel expert in January 2006 to help the Libyan counterpart evaluate quality assurance and quality control aspects of LEU fuel at the fabrication plant. The IAEA also assisted in selecting and purchasing special poolside inspection equipment to be used to closely control LEU fuel behavior during irradiation. The latter included an underwater visual inspection device, a sipping test facility and a specifically designed endoscope system that allows visual inspection of the fuel surface within the narrow gaps between the fuel tubes. The IAEA also organized an expert mission in February 2007 to Libya to assist in installing and starting up these new devices and in training the Libyan operating staff at the site. The HEU fuel was returned to Russia in December 2009 for reprocessing and down-blending.