Research Reactor Section
IAEA Support of Research Reactor HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion
For over 25 years, the IAEA has been an active partner in international efforts to minimize and eventually eliminate the use of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). A significant portion of this support involves the conversion of research reactors (RR) from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel and radioisotope production targets. The IAEA has applied an array of approaches to facilitate specific conversion endeavours. These different approaches permit the IAEA to tailor its support to the specific challenges unique to each conversion effort.
IAEA Technical Cooperation (TC) projects have proven to be an effective implementation mechanism for HEU to LEU conversions in different IAEA Member States (MS). However, the approach and scope for individual projects often differ significantly depending on a number of factors including, among others, type of research reactor, type of fuel and facility constraints. Different approaches taken in conversion projects in Chile, Libya, Portugal and Romania are presented below.
Activities within the IAEA’s regular program and budget (P&B) also support conversion for various collections of RRs. As with TC projects, the approaches are customized to address relevant needs and challenges. Efforts include conversion of Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSR) and the use of LEU in Accelerator Driven Sub-critical (ADS) systems.
Finally the IAEA remains involved in broader international HEU minimization activities. Examples include support for a transition away from HEU for 99Mo production, direct support of international meetings aimed at reducing the use of HEU and the publication of relevant technical reports.
Examples of completed or on-going conversion projects include:
Involvement in broader HEU minimization activities include:
- Conversion of 99Mo Production
- Support to International Meetings and Conferences
- Publications of Relevant Technical Reports
- Experience of Shipping Russian-Origin Research Reactor Spent Fuel to the Russian Federation (2011)
- Good Practices for Qualification of High Density Low Enriched Uranium Research Reactor Fuels (2009)
- Return of Research Reactor Spent Fuel to the Country of Origin: Requirements for Technical and Administrative Preparations and National Experiences (2009)