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Spanish manufacturer Equipos Nucleares SA (ENSA) has completed the installation of three heat exchangers for the primary circuit of the Jules Horowitz Reactor (RJH), under construction at Cadarache in southern France. Once in operation, the reactor will be used for testing of materials and fuels for current and future nuclear reactor designs.

ENSA manufactured and installed the heat exchangers as part of Spain's contribution to the development and construction of the RJH. It completed hydraulic testing of the large components in June 2018. The company said the operation to manoeuvre and install the heat exchangers was complicated by the limited space within the reactor building.

RJH is being built under the framework of an international consortium of research institutes from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the European Commission, plus major companies such as EDF, Framatome and TechnicAtome. Partners from India and Japan have also joined the consortium and the door remains open to more potential European or international partners. The project forms part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, and is one of three new research reactors forming the cornerstones of the European Research Area of Experimental Reactors, alongside the Myrrha accelerator-driven research reactor at Mol in Belgium and the Pallas reactor at Petten in the Netherlands.

France's national energy research commission, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), is funding 50% of the total EUR500 million (USD551 million) construction cost, with the remainder coming from EDF (20%), the research institutes (20%) and Framatome (10%). Operated by the CEA, the RJH will replace the 70 MWt Osiris reactor, which itself took over some of the roles of the 35 MWt Siloé reactor. Site preparations for the 100 MWt light water cooled reactor began in March 2007, with first concrete for its basemat poured in August 2009. The 105-tonne dome for the containment building of the pool-type reactor was raised by crane and lowered into place on 13 December 2013. Civil engineering work for the reactor building was completed in March 2017.

The modular design of RJH will be highly versatile and able to accommodate some 20 simultaneous experiments. Over its anticipated 50-year lifespan it will be used for studies on materials used in the nuclear power reactors of today and tomorrow, as well as testing fuels for current and future reactors. The instrumentation to be used with the reactor will allow hitherto unavailable real-time analysis to be performed. The reactor will also play a vital role in producing radioisotopes for use in nuclear medicine across Europe in coordination with existing NRG production facilities at Petten in the Netherlands.

Date: Tuesday, 28 January 2020
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The Netherlands-based Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) has begun a new study – part of its molten salt technology programme – that aims to simulate what happens when the molten salt cools down to below 150C.

Results of the study will contribute to the safety analysis of molten salt reactors. NRG said last year that the study will include the monitoring of pressure, dose and temperature and that five salts will be investigated, The salt samples will be provided by Czech research centre Řež.

A new experimental facility, called Saga, is designed to be used for testing a range of configurations (or: arrangements) for molten salt reactors.

Unlike most experiments in NRG’s High Flux Reactor at Petten in the Netherlands, irradiation will take place in the spent fuel pool instead of the reactor core. This will make use of the strong gamma field emitted by spent nuclear fuel.

Date: Friday, 20 December 2019
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Used fuel assemblies, which had been lying for decades at the bottom of Building 5, an ageing used fuel store at Russia’s Andreeva Bay in the Arctic northwest, have been removed and secured. The complex operation that was the first of its kind, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced on 26 November.

Date: Friday, 29 November 2019
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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has announced the retrieval of abandoned, highly radioactive used nuclear fuel assemblies from the bottom of Building 5 at Andreeva Bay in north-western Russian. Following the successful operation, radiation levels at the facility have fallen by over 40%, enabling further decommissioning work and removing "one of the most significant radiological risks to the Barent Sea region", the London-headquartered bank said.

Date: Thursday, 28 November 2019
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The Petten HFR in North Holland. Photo courtesy NRG. Netherlands-based nuclear services provider NRG has completed an irradiation test on molten nuclear fuel salts inside the High Flux Reactor (HFR) at Petten.

NRG said this is the first irradiation of its kind since research carried out in the US in the 1960s.

Irradiation tests are a crucial step in the development of molten salt reactor technology, which NRG said is promising in terms of both safety and economy, while having the potential to avoid the release of long-living radioactive waste in severe accident scenarios.

NRG said completing the test means it can now examine the irradiated salt more closely in its labs. “This means we’ll really be able to see how the salt responds to irradiation in the reactor,” a statement said.

Date: Thursday, 19 September 2019
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The first batch of used fuel assemblies from Russia’s Lepse floating technical base (PTB) was delivered to the Atomflot base in Murmansk, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced in late September.

Date: Wednesday, 02 October 2019
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The first containers of used nuclear fuel assemblies removed from the Lepse floating technical base at the Nerpa shipyard have been transported to Murmansk, Russia. The fuel is being removed under a programme managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and will be sent to Mayak for reprocessing.

Date: Thursday, 26 September 2019
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The Urenco-led U-Battery consortium has completed the first stage of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories' (CNL) invitation to site a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor (SMR) at the Chalk River site. It is the fourth reactor design to do so.

Date: Tuesday, 30 July 2019
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German company PFALZSOLAR has won an international tender to build and operate a 21.5MW solar park on the site of the Borssele nuclear plant in the Netherlands.

Date: Tuesday, 14 May 2019
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Shine Medical Isotopes yesterday broke ground on its first medical isotope production facility in Janesville, Wisconsin. Commercial production of isotopes, including molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), is scheduled to begin in 2021.

Date: Friday, 10 May 2019
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