Research reactors

Research reactors are nuclear reactors used for research, development, education and training. They produce neutrons for use in industry, medicine, agriculture and forensics, among others. The IAEA assists Member States with the construction, operation, utilization and fuel cycle of research reactors, as well as with capacity-building and infrastructure development.

  • Sanmen NPP, China

    Research reactors infrastructure

    A research reactor project is a major undertaking requiring strict attention to nuclear safety, international safeguards, nuclear security and the control and accounting of nuclear materials. The IAEA helps its Member States develop the necessary infrastructure to build and operate such reactors. Read more →

  • operation and maintenance of research reactors

    Operation and maintenance of research reactors

    To ensure that research reactors operate safely and efficiently, their operation must be based on strategic planning, sound management and adequate financing. The IAEA helps Member States optimize these elements by sharing of experiences, operational planning assistance, training programmes and peer reviews.  Read more →

  • Research Reactor Safety

    Research reactor safety

    The IAEA works with Member States to ensure their research reactors have the highest possible safety level. The Agency is present in every phase of a facility’s lifetime, from the planning to the decommissioning stage. It conducts peer reviews worldwide and provides technical advice. More → Read more →

  • Nuclear Fuel Cycle

    Research reactor fuel cycle

    The fuel cycle of research reactors is similar to that of most power reactors, including all steps from fuel fabrication to spent fuel management. The IAEA assists Member States in all phases of this cycle and, upon request, helps them convert their research reactors from high- to low-enriched uranium. Read more →

  • IAEA

    Research reactor applications

    Research reactors play an important role in the development of nuclear science and technology. They 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. Read more →


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