High Flux Australian Reactor

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High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) is Australia's first nuclear reactor. It was built at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (later ANSTO) Research Establishment at Lucas Heights.

Based on the DIDO reactor at Harwell in the UK, HIFAR was cooled and moderated by heavy water, and the fuel was enriched uranium. There was also a graphite neutron reflector surrounding the core. Like DIDO, its original purpose was nuclear materials testing, using its high neutron flux to give materials intended for use in nuclear power reactors their entire expected lifetime neutron exposure in a relatively short period.

HIFAR was used for research, particularly neutron diffraction experiments, production of neutron transmutation doped (NTD) silicon, and for production of medical and industrial radioisotopes.

HIFAR went critical at 11:15 pm local time on 26 January 1958,[1] and was first run at full power of 10MW (thermal) in 1960. The initial fuel load was highly enriched uranium, but over the years the enrichment level of new fuel was steadily reduced, in line with international trends designed to reduce the danger of diversion of research reactor fuel for weapons programs. HIFAR completed conversion to low enriched uranium fuel (LEU) in 2006. Of the six DIDO class reactors built including DIDO itself, HIFAR was the last still in operation. Permanent decommissioning of HIFAR commenced on 30 January 2007[2] and is expected to be completed by 2018.[3]

On 12 August 2006 OPAL, the 20MW replacement reactor located on an adjacent site, went critical.[4] OPAL is served by the same complex of research, isotope production and remote handling laboratories. The two reactors ran in parallel for six months while OPAL was being tested. HIFAR was then permanently shut down and OPAL took over HIFAR's role of Australia's only operating nuclear reactor. Decommissioning of HIFAR is expected to take approximately ten years from shutdown.[1]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ a b ANSTO staff (30 January 2007). "HIFAR Media Backgrounder" (PDF). ANSTO Media Releases (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization). Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  2. ^ ABC staff (30 January 2007). "Science Minister turns off nuclear reactor". ABC online (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  3. ^ http://www.ansto.gov.au/discovering_ansto/history_of_ansto/hifar
  4. ^ http://www.ansto.gov.au/discovering_ansto/anstos_research_reactor/development_of_opal

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