LEU-fueled MNSR in Ghana Achieves First Criticality

At 21:22(Beijing Time), 13th July, 2017, a technology team from CIAE successfully completed the first criticality experiment in Ghana’s LEU-fueled miniature neutron source reactor (MNSR). The reactor then welcomed its first criticality, which represented an important milestone in the endeavor by the international community to replace HEU-core with LEU-core for the reactor.

 The experiment was witnessed onsite by Ben Nyarko, head of Ghana’s Atomic Energy Agency, who expressed his appreciation for the Chinese experts engaging in the experiment, and spoke highly of the work they had done. John Stevens, program director of Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), applauded the role the Chinese team had played, and admired the Chinese experts for their professionalism and dedication. IAEA’s program director Andrea also sent to the team a letter to congratulate the criticality

The MNSR in Ghana was initially a HEU-fueled reactor which was constructed by CIAE in 1995. In 2014, Ghana, China and the US began their joint efforts with coordination of IAEA to replace the HEU-fueled core with LEU-fueled core for the reactor, China assuming the responsibility to provide related technology support for the joint effort. In 2015, CIAE signed contract with ANL on design, manufacture of LEU fuels, and subsequent fuel-loading, commissioning with loaded fuels, and zero-power experiment. CIAE successfully manufactured LEU fuels in June, 2016, and completed zero-power experiment with LEU fuels in August the same year.  In June 2017, LEU fuels developed by CIAE were transported into Ghana. A month later, the technology team from CIAE arrived in the country and began fuel-loading and commissioning. 

Following the first criticality, researchers will continue to conduct onsite zero-power experiment, low-power operation experiment, full-power operation experiment, safety performance experiment and environmental monitoring.