Abstracts and Available Papers Presented at the
2002 International RERTR Meeting
AND PROGRESS OF THE RERTR PROGRAM
IN THE YEAR 2002
Argonne, Illinois, USA
Following the cancellation of the 2001 International RERTR Meeting, which had been planned to occur in Bali, Indonesia, this paper describes the progress achieved by the Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) Program in collaboration with its many international partners during the years 2001 and 2002, and discusses the main activities planned for the year 2003.
The past two years have been characterized by very important achievements of the RERTR program, but these technical achievements have been overshadowed by the terrible events of September 11, 2001. Those events have caused the U.S. Government to reevaluate the importance and urgency of the RERTR program goals. A recommendation made at the highest levels of the government calls for an immediate acceleration of the program activities, with the goal of converting all the world’s research reactors to low-enriched fuel at the earliest possible time, and including both Soviet-designed and United States-designed research reactors.
The RERTR program has prepared and submitted to the Department of Energy a plan and a schedule to achieve this goal. The plan makes full use of two very important technical developments that have occurred within the program during the past two years:
- Excellent results have been obtained from the irradiation of miniplates containing monolithic LEU U-Mo fuel with uranium density of 15.6 g/cm3. If an economically viable manner of fabricating monolithic LEU U-Mo fuel elements is developed, and if the preliminary irradiation tests are confirmed, this fuel holds the promise of enabling LEU operation of all existing and future research reactors in combination with unprecedented performance.
- The progress achieved within the Russian RERTR program, both for the traditional tube-type elements and for the new “universal” LEU U-Mo pin-type elements, promises to enable soon the conversion of most Russian-designed research and test reactors.
The plan is structured to achieve LEU conversion of all HEU research reactors supplied by the United States and Russia during the next ten years, with high priority given to reactors in the United States and Russia. This effort will address, in addition to the fuel development and qualification, the analyses and performance/economic/safety evaluations needed to implement the conversions.
In combination with this over-arching goal, the RERTR program plans to achieve at the earliest possible date two other major goals:
1) Qualification of LEU U-Mo dispersion fuels with uranium densities of 6 g/cm3 and 7 g/cm3, so that reactors currently using or planning to use LEU silicide fuel can then rely on a fuel that is acceptable to COGEMA for reprocessing; and
2) Elimination of all obstacles to the utilization of LEU in targets for isotope production, so that this important function can be performed without the need for weapons-grade materials.
To better concentrate on these primary goals, and in consideration of the excellent progress made by the French fuel development program, the RERTR program has decided to forgo parallel qualification of LEU U-Mo dispersion fuel with uranium density of 8-9 g/cm3.
Only a concerted effort from all of us, working together as we have for many years, will ensure that these goals can be achieved. We intend to promote the efficiency and safety of research reactors while, at the same time, eliminating the traffic in weapons-grade uranium and, with it, the possibility that some of this material might fall in the wrong hands. In today’s environment, few causes can be more deserving of our joint efforts.
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Dr. Armando Travelli
Nuclear Engineering – 362
Argonne National Laboratory
9700 South Cass Avenue
Argonne, IL 60439
Phone: (630) 252-63639
Fax: (630) 252-5161