Research Reactor Section
IAEA Support of Research Reactor HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion
The Chinese-built Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSR, 27 kW) reactors (two in China, five abroad) are low-power, neutron source RRs used primarily for neutron activation analysis, education, and training. These reactors have cores consisting of about 1 kilogram of HEU, enriched to 90% or greater. The IAEA initiated a Coordinated Research Project (CRP) in June 2006 to assist in the conversion of these reactors to LEU.
Institutions in China, Ghana, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria are participating as contract holders in this CRP. The U.S. (Argonne National Laboratory) is an agreement holder. All contract holders have acquired an understanding of the technical and other steps necessary as well as the documentation that will be required to satisfy regulatory requirements. Information acquired through the CRP will be published by the Agency in the form of a technical publication. This will serve as an addendum to the IAEA’s existing core conversion handbook.
Parallel to the completion of the CRP, a MNSR Working Group has been established consisting of the CRP participants with relevant fuel transport and cask designers/owners as observers. The group is focusing on the coordination of common activities, such as the performance of the MNSR zero power tests, development of a transportation cask for returning spent HEU fuel to China, and the application of IAEA assistance.