US Maryland University gets new fuel for its research reactor

20 April 2017

The University of Maryland will be able to continue operating its Triga research reactor thanks to the first of several shipments of lightly irradiated fuel from the US Department of Energy's (DOE’s) Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Centre, according to a DOE press release on 17 April.

The reactor had faced the possibility of closure due to a lack of available fuel in the commercial market. The DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy designed a new policy initiative allowing fuel in its inventory that has only been used previously in a Triga reactor for a short time to be reused in another such reactor. The 250kW reactor has been in operation since 1973.

“Currently, it is not possible to obtain new Triga fuel and a source isn’t expected to become available until approximately 2020,” said Douglas Morrell, Idaho National Laboratory fuel manager for the DOE-NE Research Reactor Infrastructure Program. “We were grateful for the opportunity to support the University’s research programme while also reducing our inventory of lightly irradiated fuel in Idaho.”

Through a collaborative effort by DOE-NE, DOE-Environmental Management, NRC, Battelle Energy Alliance, Fluor Idaho, and the University of Maryland, the fuel that has been stored at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Centre, was retrieved, packaged and delivered to College Park, Maryland, on 20 March. This will be the first of several shipments to different Triga reactor facilities that is expected to take place as part of this new policy initiative.

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