MBIR fast neutron research reactor vessel installed in design position 

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The vessel of the world’s largest multipurpose fast neutron research reactor (MBIR) was installed last month in its design position at the construction site in Russia, according to an announcement by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom. 

The construction site is at Rosatom’s Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR) in Dimitrovgrad located in the Ulyanovsk region of Russia. RIAR is a part of Rosatom’s scientific division called Science and Innovation. 

A Rosatom statement said the installation of the vessel was one of the key events in assembling the reactor plant and will make it possible to finish installing the dome of the reactor building. 

“Installing the reactor vessel in its design position is a significant achievement of the work of a large team of like-minded scientists, engineers, designers, and builders. This is an important milestone in the MBIR reactor construction project, bringing us closer to installing reactor equipment and reaching the end of construction, which is already ahead of schedule,” Rosatom Deputy Director General for Science and Strategy, Yuri Olenin, said in a statement.   

“This means that we will get an advanced research infrastructure in a shorter amount of time, which will advance the study of two-component nuclear power engineering technology and our efforts to close the fuel cycle; it will help accelerate and justify the creation of safe fourth-generation nuclear power plants, and foster breakthrough research over the next 50 years,” he added.  

The MBIR reactor vessel has a length of 12 metres, a diameter of 4 metres, and a weight of more than 83 tonnes. “It was delivered to the site in April 2022 – 16 months ahead of schedule. The equipment was manufactured at the Rosatom’s Atommash plant in the city of Volgodonsk. Currently, about 1,400 workers (including engineering and technical personnel) and more than 80 units of construction machinery are engaged at the construction site,” the statement said.  

According to Rosatom, after its commissioning, the MBIR will be the most powerful (150 MW) operating research reactor in the world. In addition, it will permit conducting reactor and post-reactor experiments, as well as refine technology to produce isotopes and modified materials. 

The MBIR’s main purpose is to conduct mass reactor tests of innovative materials and prototypes of core elements for nuclear power systems of the fourth generation, including fast neutron reactors with fuel cycle closure, as well as  small and medium power thermal reactors.  

The success of the ongoing experiments on closing the nuclear fuel cycle is of utmost importance to the nuclear industry that is faced with the serious challenge of stopping the accumulation of spent fuel and ensuring the recycling of fissionable materials, that is, the fabrication of fresh uranium-plutonium fuel from reprocessed irradiated fuel. 

Rosatom says the MBIR’s unique technical characteristics will provide the nuclear industry with a technologically advanced research infrastructure for the next 50 years and will allow solving a wide range of research problems, paving the way for the creation of new competitive and safe nuclear power plants, while ensuring an enormous enhancement of the opportunities for experimental research. 

Currently, an International Advisory Board to determine the research program for the MBIR is being set up. The Board, which will

include leading Russian and international experts, and its technical committees drawn from various fields, would be vested with all the powers required to manage the research side of the MBIR project.