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Nuclear Criticality Safety
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Nuclear Science and Engineering
Fusion Science and Technology
The ongoing effort to convert the world’s research reactors
The Ghana Research Reactor-1, located in Accra, Ghana, was converted from HEU fuel to LEU in 2017. Photo: Argonne National Laboratory
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.
Edited by Dr. Leigh Winfrey, Fusion Science and Technology (FST) is the leading source of information on fusion plasma physics and plasma engineering, fusion plasma enabling science and technology, fusion nuclear technology and material science, fusion applications, fusion design and system studies. Recent topics have included plasma and fusion energy physics, tokamak experiments, stellarators, next step burning plasma experiments, target fabrication and technology for inertial confinement fusion, inertial fusion science and applications, tritium science and technology, magnetic and inertial fusion energy reactor studies, heating and current drive physics and technology, plasma control, plasma diagnostics, and much more.
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