Argonne provides technical support for conversion of Russian research reactors

July 23, 2012

On July 19, the United Press International reported the Russian government’s announcement that at least one Russian nuclear research reactor will be converted to use low-enriched uranium (LEU) by 2014.  This is a result of 2010 Implementing Agreement between the Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The IA allowed the Russian institutes to begin studying in 2011 the feasibility of converting six Russian research reactors to operation with LEU. 

These studies, and follow-on activities, are being conducted in technical cooperation between several Russian institutes and Argonne National Laboratory through the NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) – Reactor Conversion Program. This is a continuation of the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) Program that was established by the Department of Energy in 1978. Argonne has provided technical support since the inception of RERTR and among its current GTRI responsibilities provides technical leadership for the conversion of foreign reactors to LEU fuel.

The IA was signed by Rosatom Director Kiriyenko and DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman, who said, “The conversion of Russian research reactors from highly enriched uranium to lightly enriched uranium directly supports the president’s goal to reduce the dangers of nuclear terrorism and weapons proliferation.”