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New Publication: How to Plan New Research Reactors


Thorough, upfront planning is key to the success of new research reactor projects, and a new guidance document published this week will help countries ensure that their new research reactors are run efficiently, effectively and safely, and are utilized to their full capacity.

The Feasibility Study Preparation for New Research Reactor Programmes, published under the IAEA Nuclear Energy Series, provides guidance on how to perform a comprehensive and reliable viability study for submission to decision-makers in order to move forward with building a new research reactor facility.

This book was published in response to Member State requests on good practices in evaluating the feasibility of research reactors. Similar IAEA publications have focused on the feasibility of nuclear power plant projects as well as the milestones and ideal timelines in the development of a research reactor programme. Presently the IAEA provides assistance to more than 20 countries at different stages of their new research reactor programmes, from consideration to preparatory work and implementation.

This interdisciplinary publication emphasizes the need for a sound justification for a new research reactor, a comprehensive assessment of the national nuclear infrastructure, cost and benefit analysis, including associated risks for implementation of such a programme. It also discusses the roles, obligations and commitments that come with planning, developing, constructing and operating a research reactor.

Additionally, the publication outlines not only what to include in a feasibility study report but also how best to present the findings of the study. It emphasizes the necessary content and ideal structure of a comprehensive feasibility study to prepare for building a new research reactor.

Fifty-five countries operate 239 research reactors, which are used for basic research, radioisotope production, neutron scattering and radiography, and material characterization and testing. They are also important tools of advanced education and training on nuclear technology for energy and other applications. The IAEA is providing support to these countries to strengthen safe and sustainable operation of their facilities, including effective utilization, through development and review of strategic plans, peer review missions and capacity building opportunities such as the IAEA’s Internet Research Reactor (IRL) programme, the regional research reactor Schools and the International Centres based on Research Reactor (ICERR) scheme.

“The document is an invaluable compendium of useful guidelines for all countries considering a new research reactor programme, whether as a new-comer or country with already existing experience,” said Francis I. Ibitoye, who is leading the new research reactor initiative at the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission.

The IAEA publishes a series of publications within the IAEA Nuclear Energy Series. They are intended to provide information in the areas of nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle, radioactive waste management and decommissioning, and on general issues relevant to all of the aforementioned areas.


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