Work has been completed on feasibility studies for the conversion of several Russian research reactors to use low-enriched uranium fuel, the United States and the Russian Federation announced on 26 June.
This concludes the first stage of the work stipulated in the December 2010 Implementing Agreement between ROSATOM and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The studies, which focused on four Russian reactors (Argus reactor, IRT - MEPhI, OR reactor and IR-8), confirm that it is technically possible to convert the reactors to use low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. Feasibility studies for the conversion of two additional reactors MIR.M1 (NIIAR) and IRT-T (Tomsk Polytechnic University) are due to be completed this summer.
“The analysis has shown that the conversion of Argus is possible without development of new fuel, while a new fuel design based on uranium-molybdenum alloy has to be developed to convert IRT-MIFI and IR-8. The work to design and certify this fuel is underway,” Rusatom Overseas said in a 27 June statement.
“The full conversion of one reactor, and potentially a second, is expected to be completed in 2014,” the National Nuclear Security Administration announced.
The Russian side said it has informed the U.S. side that in accordance with the plans the conversion of 1-2 research reactors may be carried out in 2014.
In addition to reactor conversion, nine out of 27 research reactors using highly enriched fuel in the Russian Federation have been shut down.