Research Reactor Section

Operation & Maintenance:

Responsible Officer: E. BRADLEY


Since the mid 1980's, investment in nuclear research reactor facilities and infrastructure has decreased significantly compared with earlier decades. Many older facilities have been decommissioned, permanently shutdown, or are faced with probable shutdown in the very near future. Funding reductions and limited succession planning have strained available resources, pressuring many facilities to pursue commercial activities to remain in operation. It is in this context that modern research reactors are being tasked with advanced research in support of innovative nuclear development and training (in most cases to very aggressive schedules). To support the scientific, educational and commercial demands being placed in present times on research reactors, many are looking to optimize operations and maintenance activities to ensure the most cost effective completion of their assigned missions. Many Member States will look to the Agency for advice, ideas and information exchange on these topics. Work in the Operation and Maintenance area aims to fulfil these requests by documenting good practices and lessons learned as an element for strengthening operational management.

This task aims to fulfil these requests by documenting good practices and lessons learnt as an element for strengthening the operational management.


To increase the competence of interested Member States to develop and implement operations and/or maintenance plans including, for example, ageing management plans and programmes to optimize facility availability and reliability.

Research Reactor Ageing Management

More than half of all operating research reactor are now over 40 years old. The IAEA is assisting interested Member States share information and experiences specific to the management of technical issues related to ageing as well as the development and implementation of comprehensive ageing management programmes. A database has been developed to permit the collection and sharing of this information. The research reactor ageing database includes operating experience summaries for various ageing related challenges and programmatic approaches to ageing management. The information is searchable by research reactor system and ageing mechanism. Contact details for responsible facility managers are included in each summary to permit users to obtain additional details directly. (Click here to Access Database). It is protected by a user ID and password which can be obtained from the responsible officer. Submissions of additional detail are encouraged and may be forwarded using the below MS Word template.

Ageing Database
Submission Form


Optimization of Research Reactor Availability and Reliability: Recommended Practices

IAEA Nuclear Energy Series No. NP-T-5.4

An effective availability and reliability programme (ARP) is necessary to ensure the financial viability of research reactor facilities. This publication draws upon data from heavily utilized research reactors of diverse sizes and usage, and provides information on specific operations and maintenance practices and programmes directed towards optimization of reactor performance. The optimization of reactor performance not only increases customer confidence, thereby ensuring funding, but also improves the reactorÿs operating life and economic competitiveness.

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