Ghana converts research reactor to low enriched uranium fuel to mitigate against risks
30-08-2017 07:45:00 | by: Bob Koigi | hits: 1321 | Tags:

Ghana has successfully completed the conversion of its only research reactor from the use of high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, in an international project supported by the IAEA to help reduce the proliferation risks associated with HEU fuel.

HEU is een ingrediënt dat kan worden gebruikt om een nucleair apparaat voormalig gebruik te maken, en sinds 1978 hebben diverse nationale en internationale activiteiten onderweg omgezet in onderzoek en testreactoren van het gebruik van HEU tot LEU-brandstof, met als doel het minimaliseren en Uiteindelijk elimineren van de civiele gebruik van HEU.

The three-year project, which was a joint venture of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), the US Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE / NNSA) and the IAEA, was completed Last week. Ghana has become the first of the five countries operating a Chinese-supplied Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) to successfully convert and repatriate its ordered core core to China.

"With this pioneer commitment Ghana demonstrated the feasibility of the MNSR conversion outside China," said Kwame IJ Aboh, Project Manager at GAEC. "We hope our model of conversion and repatriation can be applied in similar operations in other countries operating such facilities."

The conversion from HEU to LEU reduces the enrichment level from over 90% uranium to below 20%, without affecting the reactor's research capabilities. Therefore, GAEC is still able to maintain its scientific research, education, training and industrial applications based on nuclear facilities following the conversion.

"Ensuring the sustainability of MNSR operation with a LEU core was a key success factor of this project," said Christophe Xerri, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology. "Denne erfaringen tilbyder et godt eksempel på internationalt samarbejde om foster kernevidenskab og praktisk uddannelse, samtidig med at man adresserer ikke-spredningsproblemer og leverer kapacitetsopbygning."

To ensure successful knowledge transfer for future conversion projects, a mock-up MNSR vessel was built for operator training at the GHARR-1 facility. Dit is sindsdien verder ontwikkeld tot een full-scale MNSR Core Removal Training Center (CRTC), beschikbaar voor trainingsoperators uit andere MNSR landen. "The National Nuclear Security Administration is a strong supporter of the CRTC concept," said Dave Huizenga, Acting Deputy Administrator of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at NNSA. "This helps harness experience gained from the pilot project in Ghana and offers full-scale training opportunities for the MNSR operators facing similar challenges in the future."

To møder blev holdt i sommeren 2017 for at lære erfaringer fra gennemførelsen af projektet - som kunne være til gavn for andre reaktorer, der ønsker at konvertere til LEU brændstof. "Utgangspunktet for disse møtene vil bygge opp Ghana-modellen og støtte lignende operasjoner i fremtiden, sier Lixin Shen, vicegeneraldirektør for Kina Atomic Energy Authority.

MNSR type research reactors were designed and manufactured by the China Institute of Atomic Energy, and the original design had a compact core with 30 kW thermal powers containing about 1 kg of 90% enriched HEU.

Nine Chinese-designed MNSR facilities exist: four in China - one of which has been converted to LEU fuel - and one each in Ghana, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. De er primært anvendt til uddannelse og uddannelsesformål.

Efter den forpligtelse fra kinesiske regering, Kina Atomic Energy Authority undertegnede ansvaret for MNSR-konvertering først for prototypen MNSR i Kina, og så arbeidet med GAEC for å fullføre GHARR-1-omvandlingen og ta tilbake den HEU.

The IAEA's cooperation with the MNSR community began in 2006 with a coordinated research project to determine the technical feasibility of converting them to LEU fuel.

Efter anmodning fra Ghana i 2014 for bistand til sikring af en LEU-kerne for landets GHARR-1-facilitet, har IAEAs forskningsreaktorseksjon gitt støtte for konvertering og fjerning, gjennomførte gjennomgangstester at GHARR-1 forskningsreaktor fokus på sikkerhet, tilbudt Regulator training on cask licensing and hero workshops on transport security.

Nigeria and Syria have also requested IAEA assistance for conversion and HEU core removal. The Nigerian project is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

In Beijing, where the HEU fuel has just arrived, Mary-Alice Hayward, IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Management Department, represented the Agency at HEU return event that the Chinese authorities organized today. She stated that "The IAEA was pleased to support our Member States with the conversion of Ghana's MNSR and the return of its HEU fuel to China. This project represents a significant milestone in the broader endeavor to minimize the use of HEU in civilian facilities while ensuring continued access to nuclear research and training capabilities. "