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Chapter 03_Research Nuclear Reactors

Chapter 03_Research Nuclear Reactors

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Published by Dr. Mir F. Ali
Many research reactors were built in the 1960s and 1970s. 1975 saw the peak number of operating research reactors with 373 in 55 countries.

These reactors are primarily designed to produce neutrons, activate radioactive or other ionizing radiation sources for scientific, medical, engineering or other research purposes including teaching and training. Many of them are located on university campuses.
Many research reactors were built in the 1960s and 1970s. 1975 saw the peak number of operating research reactors with 373 in 55 countries.

These reactors are primarily designed to produce neutrons, activate radioactive or other ionizing radiation sources for scientific, medical, engineering or other research purposes including teaching and training. Many of them are located on university campuses.

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Dr. Mir F. Ali on Feb 20, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/20/2012

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Chapter03:Research Nuclear Power Reactors
Edited by 
Dr. Mir F. Ali
 
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 Many research reactors were built in the 1960s and 1970s. 1975 saw the peak number of operating research reactors with 373 in 55 countries.These reactors are primarily designed to produce neutrons, activate radioactive or otherionizing radiation sources for scientific, medical, engineering or other research purposesincluding teaching and training. Many of them are located on university campuses. According to IAEA, no new research nuclear reactors were added to the list of more than240 operation research power reactors around the world in 2009. Many of these reactorsare used for materials testing and the production of isotopes for medicine and industry. As older reactors are retired and replaced by fewer more multipurpose reactors, thenumber of operational research reactors is expected to drop to between 100 and 150 by 2020.The figure 3-1 presented above illustrates that Russia has the highest number of research reactors, followed by USA, Japan, France, Germany and China. Many developingcountries also have research reactors, including Algeria, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Jamaica, Libya, Thailand and Vietnam. The trends reveal that even though many researchreactors are under-utilized and many older ones will be shut down and subsequently 
 
 
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undergo decommissioning; the need for research reactors is not waning. Presently, sevennew research reactors are under construction and nine more are planned. Some of thesenew reactors are innovative reactors designed to produce high neutron fluxes and will beeither multipurpose reactors or dedicated to specific needs.These reactors are relatively smaller than power reactors whose primary function is toproduce heat to generate electricity. Their power is designated in megawatts or kilowattsthermal (MWth or MWt), but a common practice is to use MW or KW for megawatts orkilowatts. Most of  these reactors range up to 100 MW, compared with 3,000 MW (ie.1000 MWe) for a typical power reactor. These reactors operate at lower temperatures. They need far less fuel, and far less fission products build up as the fuel is used. On the otherhand, their fuel requires more highly enriched uranium, typically up to 20 percent U-235(Uranium), although some older ones use 93 percent U-235. They also have a very highpower density in the core, which requires special design features. Like power reactors, thecore needs cooling, and usually a moderator is required to slow down the neutrons andenhance fission. As neutron production is their main function, most research reactors
 
also need a reflector to reduce neutron loss from the core.
1.
 
TYPES OF RESEARCH NUCLEAR REACTORS:
Because of a wide range of research covered by these reactors, a much wider array of designs are used for research reactors whereas 80 percent
of the world’s nuclear plants
are of two similar types. They also have different operating modes, producing energy thatmay be steady or pulsed. The common designs for research nuclear reactors are dividedinto the following three categories:
1.1 The Pool Type Research Nuclear Reactors:
 A common design is the pool type reactor where the core is a cluster of fuel elementssitting in a large pool of water. Between the fuel elements are control rods and empty channels for experiments. In one particular design (Material Testing Reactor), a fuelelement comprises several curved aluminum-clad fuel plates in a vertical box. The watermoderates and cools the reactor, and graphite or beryllium is generally used for thereflector, although other materials may also be used. Apertures to access the neutronbeams are set in the wall of the pool.The swimming pool reactor is very simple
 
and initially more than 40
 
such reactors werebuilt in the United States alone. The core is often made up of what are called MaterialsTesting Reactor (MTR) type fuel elements; aluminum clad, curved plates of fuel arrangedin long rectangular boxes which are arranged between grid plates to form the core.Several positions in the grid are not occupied by fuel elements, but by control rods,beryllium reflectors, or experimental capsules. Cooling may be by natural convection of the pool water, although this is augmented for operation at higher power by pumpingpool water through the core. This design led to the tank-in-pool reactor, similar to theopen-pool type but with the core contained in an aluminum tank. The cooling (light)
 
 
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 water is pumped through the core, but the pressure within the tank is only moderately elevated above that in the open pool. The pressurization being mostly due to thepressure drop across the core of the pumped coolant water flow. Again, in the UnitedStates, aluminum clad fuel plates are usual.
1.2 The Tank Type Research Nuclear Reactor:
This type of research reactors is similar except that cooling is more active.
1.3 The TRIGA Type Research Nuclear Reactor:
The core of this type of research nuclear reactor consists of 60-100 cylindrical fuelelements about 36 mm diameter with aluminum cladding enclosing a mixture of uraniumfuel and a zirconium hydride moderator.It sits in a pool of water and generally uses graphite or beryllium as a reflector. This kindof reactor can safely be pulsed to very high power levels (e.g., 25,000 MW) for fractions of a second. Its fuel gives the TRIGA a very strong negative temperature coefficient, and therapid increase in power is quickly cut short by a negative reactivity effect of the hydridemoderator.

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