Kazakhstan begins start-up programme for IVG.1M research reactor using LEU fuel

8 November 2022

Work has begun at Kazakhstan’s Baikal-1 research reactor complex to implement the power start-up stage of the IVG.1M reactor using new low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. This is the second of the nine planned launches of the IVG.1M reactor with LEU fuel. To date, power levels of 1MW and 2MW have been achieved, the calculated parameters for each level have been experimentally confirmed, and all reactor systems have operated normally.

A large amount of work has been done since 2010 to proceed to the power start-up stage. For 12 years, specialists from the National Nuclear Centre (NNC), together with US and Russian partners, have performed a series of tests. These included: neutronic and thermal-hydraulic calculations to justify the possibility of converting the reactor; development, manufacture and testing of experimental low-enriched fuel; production, transportation and acceptance testing of standard LEU fuel; physical start-up of the reactor and many other activities.

NNC said that that already the first results obtained at the power start-up confirm the conclusions of the physical start-up stage, which was completed earlier this year. The operational characteristics of the reactor after the replacement of fuel have been significantly improved. The reactor run has more than doubled as a result of the increase in fuel loading into the core. A significantly increased reactivity will make it possible to carry out launches with more complex experimental devices, while the time of each individual reactor experiment can be significantly increased. The IVG.1M reactor with new LEU fuel should be ready to continue reactor experiments as part of budgetary and commercial programmes in the first half of 2023, after completion of the power start-up stage.

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