High Flux Australian Reactor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

High Flux Australian Reactor
Nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights.jpg
HIFAR at Lucas Heights, 1958
Reactor conceptHeavy-water
  • Commissioned, 1958
  • Decommissioned, 2007
LocationLucas Heights, Sydney
Coordinates34°03′06″S 150°58′50″E / 34.051704°S 150.980607°E / -34.051704; 150.980607Coordinates: 34°03′06″S 150°58′50″E / 34.051704°S 150.980607°E / -34.051704; 150.980607
Main parameters of the reactor core
Fuel (fissile material)235U
Fuel stateSolid
Neutron energy spectrumThermal
Primary moderatorHeavy water
Primary coolantLiquid (heavy water, D2O)
Reactor usage
Primary useNeutron diffraction; Radioisotope production
Power (thermal)10MWthermal

The High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) was Australia's first nuclear reactor. It was built at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (later ANSTO) Research Establishment at Lucas Heights, Sydney. The reactor was in operation between 1958 and 2007, when it was superseded by the Open-pool Australian lightwater reactor, also in Lucas Heights.

Background and operation[edit]

Based on the DIDO reactor at Harwell in the UK, HIFAR was cooled and moderated by heavy water (D2O), 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 10 MW (thermal) in 1960. The initial fuel 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 to cease operation. Permanent decommissioning of HIFAR commenced on 30 January 2007[2] and is expected to be completed by 2025.[3]

On 12 August 2006 Open-pool Australian lightwater reactor (abbreviated as OPAL), the 20 MW 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.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "HIFAR Media Backgrounder" (PDF) (Press release). Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2007.
  2. ^ "Science Minister turns off nuclear reactor". ABC online. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 30 January 2007.
  3. ^ "Australia's first reactor". Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  4. ^ "Development of OPAL". Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2016.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]