13th International Topical Meeting on Research Reactor Fuel Management (RRFM)

22 -25 March 2009, Vienna, Austria

The four-day international conference about research reactor fuel management was organized by the European Nuclear Society in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Entirely 190 experts from 30 countries gathered in Vienna, Austria, to discuss many important issues concerning development of fuel for research reactors, conversion from high HEU to the LEU, utilisation of research reactors, their operation, maintenance and decommissioning.

The entire program of the conference was divided into the six groups/topics: International Topics, Fuel Development, Utilisation, Innovative Methods in Research reactor Physics, Back-end, Research Reactor Operation and Maintenance.

Since a number of participants were registered for the conference some sessions were carried out parallel, at the same time. These sessions took place on the 24th of March in topics concerning Fuel Development, Utilisation of Research Reactors, Innovative Methods in Research reactor Physics and Back-end of the fuel cycle where the biggest interest was noticed. In four-day conference 57 presentations were shown and discussed.

In International Topic session the presentations and discussions were mainly focused on the progress of the Jules Horowitz research reactor project; worldwide research reactor coalitions and safety standards for operating reactors.

For the session Fuel Development 15 projects were presented and were generally focused on comparison of HEU with a LEU; investigation, characterization and improvements of U-Mo fuel. Big stress was laid on necessity to convert high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to other fuel which does not poses a global nuclear proliferation risks.

Utilisation session mainly included the presentations about the practical use of research reactors, their role in life science, material testing, nuclear medicine, application in environmental and health studies. The shortage of the medical isotope technetium-99m was also deeply discussed and possible solutions were investigated.

Other sessions were shorter comparing to sessions described above and were orientated on validation of various codes for research reactor safety; MCNP simulations; investigation of research reactor aging; decommissioning after their operating life finishes; transportation of spent nuclear fuel and final disposal.

Important part of the conference was also the Poster Session where total 23 posters from 16 countries were presented. In previous RRFM conferences great interest of the participants was manifested in Poster session and in order to keep the success from previous years in RRFM09 a competition for the best poser was announced. The first place was shared between two posters and the winners obtained small presents during the Closing ceremony.

The RRFM conference was supported by two technical tours which took place in the afternoon on 25th of March. The participants could choose between visiting: TRIGA reactor in Atominstitut in Vienna or Nuclear Power Plant Zwentendorf. As a Young Reporter I chose the Zwentendorf power plant since it was a unique chance for me to see the boiling water reactor from close distance and to go below the reactor core. This power plant was built at the beginning of 70’s and unfortunately the referendum that was carried out in 1978 decided that this plant will never produce electricity and was immediately shut down. At present time it represents a museum where a nuclear energy partly died in Austria but it does not mean it will not arise again from museum aches.

Social program of the conference was very well organized and included: Wine & Cheese Party on 22nd of March at the Vienna International Centre, AREVA dinner in magnificent Palais Ferstel on 23rd of March and RRFM Conference Dinner in Viennese style on the 24th of March. All of these evenings were pleasant and relaxed after conference day and they allowed participants to meet in another way and untypical atmospheres.

As we draw to an end I would like to express my big gratefulness to the European Nuclear Society personal who managed to organize the conference of this dimensions without any problem, gave me the opportunity to attend RRFM conference and share my experience with other participants. I am also grateful for the financial support from the Czech Nuclear Society and Nuclear Research Institute Řež plc.

Marija Miletić, sekce mladých ČNS

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