Halden technology to be adapted and implemented in new research reactor

IFE is delivering a complete experimental system for the new research reactor, Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) currently under construction in Cadarache, France. This is the first complete system delivery performed by IFE’s sector for Nuclear Safety and Reliability (NUSP).
Contact

McGrath, Margaret

Deputy Project Manager/Research Director

 

The project was initiated in 2007 by an enquiry from CEA, a French research institute (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives). Could the equipment used in the Halden Reactor be adapted to the JHR?

A team was established in Halden to investigate the possibility of a technology transfer. The conclusion was positive; marking the start of what would be the first complete system delivery for the NUSP sector at IFE in Halden.

The project is called MADISON, short for “Multi-rod Adaptable Device for Irradiations of experimental fuel Samples Operating in Normal conditions”. As indicated by the name, the installation will perform experiments simulating normal operating conditions in light water reactors (LWR). Both pressurised water reactors (PWR) and boiling water reactors (BWR) belong to this category, which is the most common reactor type in the world today. JHR will in addition to MADISON have other experimental systems that can run other types of experiments. Some of these are under construction, while others are the subject of feasibility studies.

Extensive delivery

- About 80% of our staff, or about 110 people, in the NUSP sector will be more or less involved in this project, at some point in time, says Project Manager Roar Suther.

The delivery from IFE includes design and construction, as well as building the rig and loop. A rig is the “skeleton” in the experimental system. It comprises the mechanical structure where the test samples (fuel rods) are placed, also known as “sample holder”. The rig is constructed in a manner ensuring that the samples can be inserted and retracted without interfering with the experiment results.

A loop comprises a “mini-reactor”, or simulated reactor loop. It simulates the conditions in a light water reactor (LWR) by regulating pressure, temperature, water chemistry and other conditions. Together the rig and loop make up the experimental system in a research reactor, where the experiments are executed.

Moreover, equipment for surveillance, monitoring and control of the loop and rig will be adapted to fit the system. The rig will be equipped with instruments developed at the Halden Reactor Project that are especially designed to resist high pressure and temperatures. Maintenance manuals will also be developed and be included in the delivery.

A competitor to the Halden Reactor?

The new Jules Horowitz research reactor will, among other things, focus on fuel development for the new Generation 4 power reactors. It will perform material tests and fuel tests in the same way as the Halden Reactor. Still, the management in Halden do not fear the competition from the new research reactor.

- The Halden Project has survived for over 50 years with competition. For Halden it is vital to strive for excellence in what we are doing, and increased competition leads to increased efficiency as well as a higher degree of innovation, states Research Director at IFE, Margaret McGrath.

And besides, the two research reactors are not identical, and they will to a large degree complement each other rather than being in direct competition. There will be experiments that can be performed in the Halden Reactor, but not in JHR, and vice versa.

Currently, MADISON is in project phase two; detailed system design. This work will continue in 2012-2013. The third and final phase will consist of fabrication and mounting of the system, and is planned to take place in 2014-15. The Jules Horowitz Reactor will be completed in 2015-16.

JHR cubicle ENG

The picture illustrates a floor plan of the experimental system MADISON. Under operation the room will be closed off and all components controlled from the control room.

JHR MADISON tank ENG

The illustration shows how the loop and rig are placed in relation to the tank, where the irradiation experiments take place. The samples due for irradiation are sent through pipes to the reactor tank.

Facts:

  • The Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) is a new research reactor under construction in Cadarache, France.
  • The research reactor is managed by an international consortium including the research institutions CEA (France), SCK (Belgium), NRI (the Czech Republic), VTT (Finland) and CIEMAT (Spain), and the European Commission. Industry partners include EDF, AREVA and Vattenfall.
  • JHR will be used for materials and nuclear fuel tests, as well as production of nuclear medicine and high performance silicon for power electronics.
  • JHR has several, independent experimental systems that can run up to 20 experiments simultaneously.
  • The research reactor is named after Jules Horowitz, a Polish-French scientist who has made large contributions to nuclear physics.

Sources:

http://www.cad.cea.fr/rjh/index.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Horowitz_Reactor

The article is based on an article by Arne Hornæs, p.12-13 in IFE’s internal magazine «Energien”, no. 2, 2011.

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