Prague, June 6 (CTK) - A second fission reactor started operating at the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CVUT) today, the university representatives have announced at a press conference, adding that it will be used for education and scientific purposes.
This is the tenth nuclear reactor in the country. Its construction cost roughly 15 million crowns. The new VR-2 reactor is smaller than the VR-1 that CVUT has been operating since 1990.
CVUT is the only university in the world that runs two fission reactors and one fusion reactor tokamak, Golem.
In the Czech Republic, there are also two research reactors in the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Rez near Prague and six reactors in two nuclear power plants, Temelin in south Bohemia and Dukovany in south Moravia, both operated by the state-controlled power utility CEZ.
The first nuclear reactor in the country began operating in 1957 in Rez, the last unit to date was started up in 2002 at Temelin.
CVUT Rector Vojtech Petracek said the new reactor should be used first of all to train new nuclear experts.
"The new fission reactor VR-2 will help us to better schedule teaching and scientific activities, because with the VR-1 reactor we were running into capacity limits. It serves not only the students of our faculty, and thus of CVUT, but also students of other universities, foreign students and, of course, also people from practice who come to us for various trainings," Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering Dean Vaclav Cuba said.
The faculty started the process to build the reactor in 2014, the construction itself took a year.
VR-2 is a subcritical reactor, which means that it produces fission using additional neutrons from an outside source instead of sustaining a chain reaction. When the external source is switched off, fission stops. This makes the reactor easier to operate, safer and allows the use of a simpler design, CVUT representatives said.
The faculty received the fuel for VR-2 in 2018 for free from Aalto University in Finland.
Rataj said the reactor had a power output of hundreds of watts, so it is not capable of ensuring the operation of any larger unit. However, all nuclear fission and fusion processes take place in it, so it is ideal for teaching and scientific work.
($1 = 22.049 crowns)