Ghana’s research reactor converted to LEU fuel

17 August 2017

The China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE) has completed the conversion of Ghana's GHARR-1 research reactor from highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to   low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, Xinhua reported on 11 August, after the reactor achieved full power. In response to the US Global Threat Reduction Initiative, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had supported the conversion of Ghana's reactor at the National Nuclear Research Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, which started operations in December 1994. China was chosen by the IAEA to carry out the more than $20m conversion project because the original HEU reactor was of Chinese origin. The process involved replacing the original core of the reactor which has 90.2% uranium enrichment with one that is below 20%.

GHARR-1, the first of five Chinese-supplied reactors outside of China to be converted, is a low-power research reactor with maximum thermal power level of 30kW. It is a commercial type of the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) designed, manufactured and constructed by the China Institute of Atomic Energy. The reactor is designed for use in universities, hospitals and research institutes, mainly for neutron activation analysis, production of short-lived radioisotopes, education and manpower development. 

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