Open to researchers outside the CTN

  Research Portuguese Reactor

Equipped with a 1 MW natural water open pool reactor. It is in operation since 1961, with an interruption of 3 years in the late eighties for refurbishment which included changes in the fuel enrichment from LEU to HEU. During 1999 all the LEU spent fuel was returned to the USA under an agreement which covers the return of the present fuel until 2009. During 2007, the transition back to LEU fuel will be completed.

The laboratory for fabrication of Superheated Droplet Detectors installed in 2004 is now in full use. Three new research projects are using this laboratory. The Emission Channelling/Blocking Setup is now operational and its optimization is underway. The programme for testing of electronic components under fast neutron irradiation for LHC/CERN is near completion. Two projects for installation of setups for neutron tomography and for Perturbed Angular Correlations using short lived isotopes started in late 2005.

Operation of the reactor requires the calculation of parameters such as effective multiplication, control rod worth and safety parameters. An intensive activity in this field has continued, in order to prepare the core conversion to low enriched fuel. A feasibility study for conversion to high density U3Si2-Al fuel was done with assistance from the Argonne National Laboratory (USA). No significant loss of performance of the reactor is expected after the core conversion.

Reactor irradiation time.

A clear increase is seen since 1999, reflecting an increase in its use. The integrated power for 2004 was 60 MWd, about 30% higher than last year and the highest value since 1979. On average, 1.8 irradiations were performed at the same time. The main activity in 2005 was Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA), to users in the Reactor and Chemistry (33%), followed by Isotope Production (30%) and the study of radiation effects in materials and seeds (21%). Isotope production again increased by about 60% from last year and more than doubled relatively to 2004.