Russia’s Glavgosexpertiza experts have approved the project for the modernisation of the PIK reactor at BP Konstantinov St Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute (PNPI) in Gatchina, part of the Kurchatov Institute National Research Centre. "

The project documentation and the results of engineering surveys for retrofitting and selective targeted replacement of equipment and system elements of the complex were reviewed by experts from Glavgosexpertiza of Russia. A positive conclusion was issued as a result of the state examination," the statement says.

The work is being carried out within the framework of the federal target programme "Research and Development in Priority Areas of Development of the Scientific and Technological Complex of Russia for 2014-2020". According to the programme, RUB2.2 billion ($28,300) has been set aside for this work in 2020.

The project includes modernisation of equipment for systems for handling radioactive substances and waste, technological processes and equipment for handling systems for nuclear fuel, fresh nuclear fuel, modernisation of lifting mechanisms and a complex of protective (hot) chambers and pneumatic mail. Also, the engineering and technical systems important for safety and the information system "Rakurs" will be updated. The creation of a structured monitoring and management system for engineering systems of buildings and structures is also planned.

In addition, during the implementation of the project, local replacements of pipelines, general industrial pipeline valves for a nuclear power plant will be performed, pumps and a refrigeration unit will be replaced with modern analogues, and the sampling and chemical control system of chemical-technological and technological systems will be finalized without making fundamental changes to the schemes.

Also, a number of buildings and blocks on site are being modernised in terms of engineering systems, retrofitting, decoration of premises, selective replacement of equipment, elements of systems for ensuring the operation of the PIK reactor and the operation of its scientific stations, as well as a number of other works.

In June 2019, the Russian government allocated almost RUB9 billion to create the instrument base of the PIK reactor complex.

PIK has a long and complex history. Construction began in 1976 and over the next decade, the main buildings were erected, a significant part of the installation work was completed. However, work stopped after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986. Construction resumed in 2001 and in 2011, a physical launch was carried out at zero power. In 2019, specialists of Volgodonskatomenergoremont completed repair work and first stage of the power startup at 100kW begun.

The high flux PIK reactor will join three other such facilities worldwide the 45MW High Flux Reactor in Petten (Netherlands), which is nearing the end of its design life), the upgraded 85MW High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (USA), and the 20MW Heinz Maier-Leibnitz FRM II (Germany).