Keywords: research reactors, current status, nuclear power, development prospects, research reactor market, nuclear energy, nuclear reactors
The status of research reactors in Russia and prospects for their development
Russian Research Reactors (RRs) have a history of more than 60 years, which began on 26 December 1946, when the first Russian RR – a 24 kW uranium-graphite F-1 reactor – was started in Moscow. This reactor is still in operation and is protected by the government as a monument to Russian scientific and engineering thought. The F-1 reactor ushered in the era of nuclear power in Russia (the USSR in those days) and gave rise to an important field in these activities, i.e., reactor engineering for research purposes. Russian RRs have had an eventful and far from easy path in their development. Like other major nuclear states, Russia took energetic efforts to provide its own RRs in the 1950s-1980s. It exported such reactors to other countries and survived the nuclear stagnation at the end of the 20th century through the beginning of the 21st century to keep its leading position in RR uses to the present day. Reforms in the Russian nuclear industry, the extensive experience in building RRs both at home and abroad, together with the proactive export policy of the newly established public corporation Rosatom form a groundwork for making Russia an important player in the international market of RRs. Today, Russia can offer a broad spectrum of services to foreign customers, ranging from the conduct of specific experiments in its domestic reactors to the building of scientific centres with RRs at their core. This paper discusses the current status of Russian RRs as well as the prospects for their development in the coming years. A special note is made of the trend towards a more active presence of Russia in the international RR market.