Research Reactor Section

The Section assists Member States in every step of a research reactor’s life cycle, including developing the nuclear infrastructure needed for the facility’s safe and secure construction, operation and utilization. On request, it helps Member States  reduce the amount of highly enriched uranium used in their research reactors.

The work of the Section ranges from the use of research reactors to infrastructure issues, their operation and maintenance, as well as to the fuel cycle. It helps ensure that research reactors are utilized as optimal as possible and, for this purpose, provides capacity-building training on the reactors’ use for applications in industry, medicine, agriculture and academia. It also helps build coalitions and networks to support the implementation of larger international projects.

From planning and innovation to the fuel cycle

Member States that are planning or building new research reactors can draw on the IAEA’s expertise to help them with the assessment and development of their national nuclear infrastructure. The Section provides this support and helps States with human resource development and capacity-building when Member States embark on nuclear science and technology programmes. It also offers international peer reviews, such as the Integrated Research Reactor Infrastructure Assessment missions (IRRIA).

Another focus is the reactors’ nuclear fuel cycle. Working on the fuel cycle phases, the Section helps Member States develop and qualify new low enriched uranium fuels for research reactors and targets for the production of radioisotopes. It supports them in dealing with fresh fuel supply issues and spent fuel management.

On request, the Section also helps States convert operating research reactors and targets for radioisotope production from highly enriched to low enriched uranium, which decreases proliferation risks. Finally, it provides assistance when it comes to repatriating such highly enriched uranium from research reactors to the country of origin.

To help Member States optimize the availability and reliability of research reactors, the Section serves as a hub for information- and experience-sharing and assists with  the development and implementation of effective operation and maintenance plans, ageing management programmes, training programmes and international peer reviews, such as the Operation and Maintenance Assessment for Research Reactors mission (OMARR).

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