DDG Bychkov Visits Austrian Research Reactor
Prof. Helmuth Boeck, retired manager of the TRIGA reactor (2nd right)
briefs DDG Bychkov (right) on the reactor’s control room.
Alexander Bychkov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, visited Austria’s only nuclear facility, 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.
“There are over 60 countries operating research reactors,” said DDG Bychkov during his visit on 9 January 2013, “whereas the number of countries with nuclear power reactors is only half of this.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
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. 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 reactor 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.
The reactor of the Vienna University of Technology has been working since 1962 and 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.
Profs Helmuth Boeck, Helmut Rauch and Hartmut Abele hosted DDG Bychkov during his visit and presented him the research and science opportunities that are available at their institute.
Story and Photo: Ayhan Evrensel, Department of Nuclear Energy