Sunday, 12 February 2012

Research reactors: ignored yet irreplaceable

A good read on research reactors:
"They are small and do not produce energy for electricity production. But for over half a century, research reactors have been fostering scientific innovation and education in more than 50 countries around the world. They host ground-breaking experiments from the nuclear industry's best minds and serve as training centres for students and nuclear scientists of the future."... "
The primary purpose of these non-power reactors is to provide a neutron source for research and other purposes. Neutrons are mainly used for materials testing and the production of isotopes for medicine and industry. Their applications are very diverse, ranging from testing of airplane turbines, to detecting arsenic poisoning in a hair sample or producing life-saving isotopes.
In the decades ahead, research reactor programmes are expected to make yet greater contributions - particularly in education and training, basic research, materials science and nuclear medicine, these reactors will play important role in the development, advancement and transfer of these technologies to and among developing countries. The IAEA, for its part, is committed to support its Member States in developing and improving their research reactor programmes to foster technology exchange and innovation.
"Among the activities that the IAEA organizes to support research reactors are technical meetings, publications and projects, which include the supply of equipment, human skill development and the transfer of knowledge via fellowships, scientific visits and peer reviews," said Ed Bradley, Nuclear Engineer at the IAEA Research Reactor Section.
Recent initiatives focus on three key areas: medical isotope production; education and training; and neutron imaging applications."

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