The ETRR-2 reactor, built by INVAP S.E. (Argentine state-owned applied research company) to the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) of the Arab Republic of Egypt, is located in Inshas, 60 kilometers northwest from Cairo. It is a multipurpose reactor used for radioisotope production and research on neutron physics, materials science, nuclear fuel and boron neutron capture therapy.
Its predecessor, the ETRR-1 reactor, manufactured by the former Soviet Union, became first operational in 1961. The ETRR-2, with its several facilities, laboratories and peripheral systems is an essential tool for the continuous training of scientists and engineers. Furthermore, it allows Egypt to supply its domestic market with medical elements.
The AEA called for an international tender to build the ETRR-2 reactor in 1989, and INVAP was selected to carry out the work in 1992. Civil works began one year later strictly complying with the schedule. The reactor reached criticality in 1997 and was delivered, already in operation, in 1998. INVAP was responsible for the engineering and the overall management of the project: from its conceptual design, the licensing and installation documentation, to the supply, building and assemblage.
During that five-year period, Egypt benefited from nuclear knowledge-sharing, since its professionals were involved in the design and its engineering companies in the building stage. As usual with INVAP's exportations, the civil work complied with the regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which require a strict regime of international inspections and a detailed inventory of the fuel used.
The ETRR-2 is an open pool reactor. It has a core with up to 30 fuel elements with 19 plates each, made up of 19.75% enriched uranium alloy, and a thermal power of 22 thermal MW. The reactor's facility is a four-story seismic resistant building. In the center, there is a massive concrete block that hosts the core, the reactor pools and service pools.
The core is 10 m deep in a 4.5 diameter pool, and is surrounded by a Zircaloy chimney through which a flow of demineralized light water is forced upwards.
The core reactivity is controlled through six plates made of silver-indium-cadmium alloy. If the reactor is switched off in case of emergency, the convective upward flow inside the chimney is enough to dissipate decay heat of the core, with no need to pump or change the flow. This is an inherent safety feature.
Besides, the reactor has a protection system (RPS) that simultaneously analyzes five signals that measure critical parameters. The RPS activates the interlock if critical parameters are out of the safety range.
The reactor includes several irradiation channels, hot cells and other research equipment.
It has a bunker designed for an experimental oncology treatment, called Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT).
It also includes a system of neutron radiography for materials and components, and another similar system in the tank for underwater analysis of samples with a high level of activation.
One of the hot cells adjacent to the upper edge of the pool was designed to handle different regular test equipment used in the field of materials science.