NNSA converts two US research reactors from HEU to LEU

28 September 2009

The University of Wisconsin Research Reactor and Neutron Radiography Reactor at INL have been converted from the use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has now converted or verified the shutdown of a total of 67 HEU research reactors around the world.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in cooperation with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the University of Wisconsin, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy recently completed the conversion of the two research reactors through NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI).

NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D’Agostino said: “The conversion of reactors in the United States shows that we are committed to leading by example. We commend the parties involved for their efforts on the successful conversion of the University of Wisconsin Research Reactor and the Neutron Radiography Reactor at INL to LEU fuel.”

The conversion of the University of Wisconsin Research Reactor completes implementation of the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership of 2005 two years ahead of schedule. With these recent efforts, the Department of Energy has now completed the conversion of 17 US university HEU fueled research reactors. Two remaining HEU fueled university research reactors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MITR) and the University of Missouri (MURR) both require a new higher density LEU fuel currently under development.

The University of Wisconsin Research Reactor and INL’s Neutron Radiography Reactor are the fourth and fifth reactors to be converted or verified as shut down by NNSA in 2009. The others include the shutdown of General Atomics’ TRIGA reactor in California and Bulgaria’s IRT-2000 in Sofia, and the conversion of Hungary’s Budapest Research Reactor.




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