OPAL Research Reactor, Lucas Heights, Australia

OPAL Research Reactor, Lucas Heights, Australia

The Open Pool Australian Light-water reactor (OPAL) is a multipurpose facility particularly oriented toward radioisotope production. It is located in the city of Lucas Heights, 35 km south west... Read more

The reactor core has a compact design, is located 10 m deep in the main pool, and is surrounded by a Zircaloy chimney. It comprises sixteen fuel assemblies made of low-enriched uranium fuel plates.

Fuel plates are separated from each other by cooling channels where the cooling system water circulates to dissipate fission heat. When the reactor is switched off, the decay heat is dissipated by the natural circulation of the pool water. Reactivity is controlled by neutron absorbing plates moving vertically.

The core is surrounded by a heavy water reflector tank that reflects neutrons and ensures the availability of a large volume of high neutronic fluxes. The facilities for target irradiation and neutron beam extraction are located into the reflector tank.

The channels of the cooling systems, the nuclear and non-nuclear instrumentation, and the irradiation facilities are also located in the reactor pool.

Waste and spent fuel elements management

The reactor comprises facilities for monitoring, controlling, insulating and classifying nuclear and non-nuclear waste. The radioactive liquid waste management system classifies, collects and temporarily stores the liquid waste derived from the operation of the reactor systems, its facilities and laboratories. The reactor service pool has facilities for reducing the total volume of solid metallic waste.

The irradiated fuel elements are stored in baskets placed in the storage rack of the service pool. The baskets design and their cooling conditions ensure the preservation of the fuel cladding integrity.