Reactor NUR de Argelia
In 1985, INVAP signed a contract for the construction of a 1 MW multi-purpose Research Reactor in Algeria, which was inaugurated in April, 1989 in Draria, Argel, after only 18 months of work. It was named "NUR", that means "lightness" in Arabic.
The NUR design is similar to that of the RA-6 Argentine Reactor built in Argentina, though if features a significant upgrade in human-equipment interface.
The reactor is used to produce isotopes at laboratory scale. Samples may be irradiated within the core or inside the reflector tank. It provides a hot cell to handle irradiated samples. The neutron extraction channels are also used in basic and applied investigation in the field of neutron physics.
Besides, the NUR Reactor is an educational tool for reactor operations personnel, and it therefore provides an additional control console, "slave" to the main console. Personnel in training learn to use the console in real conditions under expert supervision.
The NUR Reactor is also used as "educational reactor" for engineers and nuclear physics, and in this sense it has been a major contribution to Algerian science. For example, traceable isotopes made it possible to study the dynamics of two aquifers in northern Africa desserts.
NUR export was based on transfer of technology between both countries. As part of the original Agreement between INVAP and the Haut Commissariat à la Recherché of Algeria (today replaced by the Centre de Dévéloppement des Techniques Nucléaires of the Ministry for Scientific Research), Argentina trained more than 50 technicians and nuclear engineers using the RA-6 installations in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.
Equally important for human resources training in Argelia was the participation of a number of Algerian firms in the construction effort, in the civil works and in other aspects as well.
The NUR is an open pool type research reactor, light-water cooled, graphite-moderated, with a thermal power output of 1 MW. Fuel elements are MTR type, 20% enriched uranium, plate-type with aluminum cladding.
The design of the reactor core and its associated control and safety systems is based on the following criteria:
- Natural convection cooling in case of loss of pumping power.
- Access to the reactor core from the top of the tank even with the reactor operating at full power.
- Mechanisms associated with control and safety rods are located on top of the reactor tank, in order to facilitate staff training and implementation of experiments.
- The core is cooled by water that flows downwards to the decay tank beyond the pool.
- Reactivity is controlled by the reactor safety and control plates.
The NUR was mainly design for neutron radiography for research and industrial purposes; laboratory scale production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial purposes; and for basic and applied research in the fields of reactor physics and nuclear engineering. Besides, it enables research in materials structure by neutron bombardment, materials testing and irradiation and training of scientific and technical personnel.
Reactor safety is complemented with a network of radiation detectors located in contamination-risk areas, plus a smoke detection and manual and automatic fire extinguishing systems. There is an auxiliary pool to store spent fuel elements.
Auxiliary services such as demineralized water supply, compressed air, electrical systems, emergency power generators, communications systems, workshops, physical security system and labs are also available.
Computerized supervision and control system
The reactor provides a data acquisition system for supervision and control. Collection and processing of information is distributed and visualization is centralized. Among others, the system allows to:
- Supervise and monitor from the Control Room the various systems involved in the operation of the reactor.
- Provide an overall visual plant control while keeping a detailed record of all actions undertaken.
- Keep short and long term recording of digital and analog signals, to analyze experiences, temporal evolution and sudden variations of parameters.