The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign formed a partnership with Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation to deploy an advanced research reactor on campus, based on a microreactor design that improves upon well-established high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology. Unlike traditional research reactors, our focus at UIUC is not on a laboratory tool to study radiation interactions with matter, or even on the production of radioisotopes. Instead, we will build a research, education, and training facility intended to help advanced reactor technology become a widely deployable, marketable, economic, safe, and reliable option for a clean energy future. If successful, the USNC-designed Micro Modular Reactor (MMR)a would operate on UIUC’s campus with the capability to advance critical and enabling technologies required for advanced reactors to realize their full potential, while educating and training the workforce as a key step toward delivering on the technology’s promise. Microreactors can become a transformative distributed energy technology and revolutionize energy infrastructure worldwide.
April 8, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
March 21, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear News
In the 13 months since a fuel element failure triggered a scram of the research reactor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR), the event and its causes have been scrutinized by both NIST and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Initial conclusions from an NRC special inspection released on March 16 confirm that while public health and safety was maintained during and after the event, and doses to reactor facility staff were well below regulatory limits, a safety limit was violated when the temperature of the fuel cladding of a single fuel element in the 20-MWt research reactor reached a temperature high enough to partially melt the element.
August 31, 2021, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
The Berkeley, Calif.-based startup Deep Isolation has contracted with Slovenia’s radioactive waste management organization ARAO to conduct a feasibility study on the use of deep boreholes to dispose of the country’s spent research reactor fuel.
June 30, 2021, 12:18PMNuclear News
The U.S. state with more nuclear power plants than any other—Illinois—has no operating university research reactors. A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) intends to reverse that situation and construct a high-temperature gas-cooled microreactor. If the team's plans go ahead, the first new U.S. university research reactor deployment in about 30 years could also support commercial advanced reactor deployment.
Idaho’s ATR Critical Facility undergoes a digital control system upgrade.
October 16, 2020, 2:18PMNuclear News
At first glance, the Advanced Test Reactor Critical (ATRC) Facility has very little in common with a full-size 800- or 1,000-MW nuclear power reactor. The similarities are there, however, as are the lessons to be learned from efforts to modernize the instrumentation and control systems that make them valuable assets, far beyond what their designers had envisioned.
One of four research and test reactors at Idaho National Laboratory, the ATRC is a low-power critical facility that directly supports the operations of INL’s 250-MW Advanced Test Reactor (ATR). Located in the same building, the ATR and the ATRC share the canal used for storing fuel and experiment assemblies between operating cycles.
The 40-year effort to make research reactors safer and more secure has led to the conversion of 71 reactors worldwide from HEU fuel to LEU.
July 10, 2020, 2:17PMNuclear News
In late 2018, Nigeria’s sole operating nuclear research reactor, NIRR-1, switched to a safer uranium fuel. Coming just 18 months on the heels of a celebrated conversion in Ghana, the NIRR-1 reboot passed without much fanfare. However, the switch marked an important global milestone: NIRR-1 was the last of Africa’s 11 operating research reactors to run on high-enriched uranium fuel.
The 40-year effort to make research reactors safer and more secure by replacing HEU fuel with low-enriched uranium is marked by a succession of quiet but immeasurably significant milestones like these. Before Africa, a team of engineers from many organizations, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, concluded its conversion work in South America and Australia. Worldwide, 71 reactors in nearly 40 countries have undergone conversions to LEU, defined as less than 20 percent uranium-235. Another 31 research reactors have been permanently shut down.
March 1, 2020, 10:35PMRadwaste Solutions
International Atomic Energy Agency member states operating or having previously operated a research reactor are responsible for the safe and sustainable management of associated radioactive waste, including research reactor spent nuclear fuel (RRSNF). Management includes storage and ultimate disposal of RRSNF, or the corresponding equivalent waste generated and returned following reprocessing of the spent fuel. Currently, there are 259 research reactors operating, planned, or under construction around the world . An additional 147 research reactors are in extended or permanent shutdown, or under decommissioning.
One key challenge to developing general recommendations for RRSNF management options lies in the diversity of spent fuel types, locations, and national or regional circumstances, rather than mass or volume alone, particularly since typical RRSNF inventories are relatively small. Currently, many countries lack an effective long-term strategy for managing RRSNF. Many research reactor organizations know they have responsibility for the spent fuel, however, they do not know how to decide among multiple options for its management. A methodical review and compilation of technology options for RRSNF management is needed.