Russia to begin conversion of its research reactors to LEU in 2013

Deputy general director of Rosatom, Vyacheslav Pershukov, announced at a conference in Moscow that Rosatom has developed a reactor conversion program. Implementation of the program is expected to begin in 2013. Pershukov was quoted as saying that the program will convert all research reactors in Russia, but it is likely that he actually meant that the program will work across organizational lines and the reactors that are included in the program do not have to be managed by Rosatom. This would be consistent with Pershukov's reference to the U.S.-Russian work on reactor conversion that incuded conversion feasibility studies of six reactors that are managed by different organizations:

  • IR-8 (Kurchatov Institute, Moscow)
  • OR (Kurchatov Institute, Moscow)
  • Argus (Kurchatov Institute, Moscow)
  • IRT (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, Moscow)
  • IRT-T (Tomsk Polytechnical Institute, Tomsk)
  • MIR-M1 (Research Institute of Atomic Reactors, NIIAR, Dimitrovgrad). 

Pershukov also stated that the program will eliminate HEU targets in medical isotope production. In particular, the molybdenum-99 production at the Obninsk branch of the Karpov Scientific Research Institute of Physical Chemistry (NIFKhI) is expected to be converted to LEU targets. NIFKhI is currently producing Mo-99 in a process that uses HEU targets.

UPDATE 07/24/2013: The first paragraph is updated to clarify that there is no commitment to convert all research reactors.