Large components in place for Argentinean research reactor

09 October 2020

The installation of the pumps for the primary cooling circuit of Argentina's RA-10 multipurpose reactor has been completed, the country's National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA) has announced. This marks completion of the assembly of the reactor's large components.

A rendering of how the RA-10 could look once completed (Image: CNEA)

The RA-10 - a 30 MWt open-pool research reactor - is being constructed at the Ezeiza Atomic Centre in Buenos Aires province to replace the RA-3 reactor on the same site. This 10 MWt pool-type reactor began operations in 1967. The RA-10 will be used for the production of medical radioisotopes, as well as irradiation tests of advanced nuclear fuel and materials, and neutron beam research.

The RA-10 project was approved by the government and was officially started by CNEA in June 2010. Argentina's Nuclear Regulatory Authority granted a construction licence for RA-10 in November 2014. The civil works for the reactor began in 2016. Nuclear technology firm INVAP is involved in the design and construction of the reactor facility and related installations, playing the role of main contractor. The assembly of the RA-10 pool - which will house the core of the reactor - was completed in August 2018.

CNEA announced yesterday that the pumps for RA-10's primary cooling circuit have now been installed. The reactor features three such pumps, each weighing 10 tonnes and with a conventional centrifugal technology. Two of the pumps - manufactured by Rhurpampen at its plant in Monterrey, Mexico - will operate in parallel, while the third will be reserved as a backup against potential operating equipment failures. Each pump is capable of moving a flow of 1910 cubic meters per hour of water through the reactor core. In addition, each unit has an inertia flywheel that, in the event of a loss of energy, maintains the rotation of the pump for the necessary time, which ensures the safety of the reactor by gradually decreasing the cooling flow.

Once it is operational, the RA-10 will ensure the supply of radioisotopes for medical use at the national level and will have the capacity to export to the world market, according to CNEA. This, it says, will generate a strategic impact for Argentina in the areas of health, science, industry, applied research, technological development and services.

As part of growing bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy between Argentina and Brazil, in May 2013 INVAP was awarded contracts to build the RA-10 research reactor and the Brazil Multipurpose Reactor, with Australia's OPAL reactor being the reference design for both.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News