Reactores RA-6 y RA-8 de Argentina
The RA-8 Argentine Reactor's only mission was to test the fuel for the future CAREM Power Station. RA-8 was designed and constructed by INVAP for the Argentine Nuclear Authority (CNEA) in Pilcaniyeu, Province of Río Negro, Argentina. It was in operation from 1997 to 2001. This kind of low power reactor is usually short-lived, since they go out of service once their mission is complete. Though they are similar in design to open pool research reactors, their purpose is different: to test the quality of fuel elements and the core design in a physical scale model.
The RA-8 is an open pool, zero-power reactor. It generates only 10 watts of thermal power, with a maximum of 100 in full operation. With such low thermal emission, there is no need for a complex cooling system. Natural convection of the pool water is enough to cool the core. Fuel elements used by the RA-8 during its short life will activate the future CAREM station: low enriched uranium oxide in a zircaloy clad.
This material has a proportion of the U235 fissile isotope, which may be 1.8 to 3.4% of the total uranium inventory. CAREM control elements, silver, indium and cadmium plates intended to absorb neutron excess, were also tested in the RA-8.