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Project overview

Research reactors in the world

      • Research reactors have contributed substantially to the development of nuclear science and technology for the last half-century.
        But today we are at the point where most of the discoveries achievable with existing research reactors have already been made. New innovations and discoveries need newer tools and more powerful research facilities based on high flux reactors with well-equipped laboratories for post-irradiation experiments and extended research options.
        But the world reactor fleet is inevitably aging. There are less than 250 operating research reactors in the world. The vast majority of them are operated for about 50 years, approaching their decommissioning within the next couple of decades.


    Major European research reactors will be close to their 60th anniversary by 2020.
    But there should be a surplus capacity to catch up with the requirements of tomorrow and beyond.

Out of the new construction, the fast neutron projects are MBIR – currently under construction – and MYRRA which is still at a design stage and will be a valuable addendum to the world research potential in a longer term horizon but will need test facilities of the fast spectrum before passing on to the construction stage. Commercial fast reactors – BNs including – may also be used for a range of research but they are neither intended not adapted therefor so research programs will have to adapt to the reactors’ work schedule not the other way round as it is with a research reactor.

Thermal research reactors may be an alternative for some time but it is the same level of research as the past 2-3 decades and efficient for the existing reactor types but with limited capabilities for innovative technological cases which are thus left with 3D modeling option – an exhibitive exercise but hardly enough for moving up to a practical application.

So without new high flux research reactors providing the fast neutron spectrum within a couple of decades nuclear science and material testing may face a shortage of tools.

    The purpose of the MBIR construction is the creation of a high-flux fast neutron research reactor with unique consumer properties for the following tasks: carrying out reactor and post-reactor studies, generating electricity and heat, developing new technologies for the production of radioisotopes and modified materials.

MBIR project roadmap and layout



MBIR research reactor facility

        • MBIR is a research facility with a multipurpose fast neutron reactor and metal coolant (sodium). The facility will be equipped with a wide range of experimental devices providing for a variety of research options.


        • MBIR reactor is a loop type facility with three cooling circuits.

        • The facility will be equipped with the following in-core elements:

        • 14 cells for material testing assemblies
        • 3 instrumented channels
        • up to 3 Independent loops for different coolants
        • Outside the core there may be up to 6 horizontal and up to 14 vertical experimental channels (nay be used also for silicon doping, isotope pellets irradiation and NAA.

az colored

    Fluence in the core per calendar year :

  • up to 33-34 dpa in the central experimental sells
  • up to 30 dpa in the central loop
  • 20-24 dpa in the periphery
  • 11-17 dpa in the first row of the blanket


Experimental facilities outside the core.

    Outside the core there will be 14 vertical channels (VEC) and up to 6 horizontal experimental channels (HEC).



International Research Center MBIR (IRC MBIR)

    Rosatom calls for international research partnership on the basis of the new reactor MBIR. The fundamental argument behind the idea – redundancy of the potential for a sole user even so advanced in the new technologies development as Russia alongside the capital intensity and high operating costs ruling out under the underutilization as an excusable option.
    A comprehensive high flux research facility can’t be implemented small scale or on a modular basis so high cost is an inevitable factor. Which bring us to the idea promoted by IAEA for quite some time of regional “centers of excellence” where a single reactor can service a number of countries.

МЦИ обнов“A research reactor may be constructed to meet the requirements of a single Member State, or to serve as a regional or international center of excellence; helping to meet the needs of both the initiating Member State and its neighbors or collaborators. Developing the case for a regional facility is more difficult and complex, but is potentially highly beneficial, providing higher utilization, additional human and financial resources.”

    The ultimate advantage of the consortium management vs the sole construction and use of a research reactor is the cost reduction, as the user may buy the flux share it actually requires for the research and has a possibility to dispose of it temporarily when it is not needed while preserving its user’s rights. Or increase the share if and when necessary.
    The consortium agreement will define the general terms of contracting and the reactor resource (flux& channels) distribution and will be the platform for multilateral programs.
    The consortium will be the single entering point meaning that all partners whether the founders or those joining later will have to accept the consortium terms before contracting RIAR for the irradiation services at MBIR.
    ROSATOM (represented by a special purpose daughter company) will be the consortium leader providing he administrative assistance, financial coordination and reporting for the consortium funding and arbitration management in case of disputes between the operator and other consortium members.
    RIAR as a party to the consortium will accept the terms of consortium agreement pari passu with other members.
    RIAR will be bearing direct responsibility for liabilities, operation, and maintenance as well as the program technical execution. And will provide extra laboratory services on site.


    Partners will have a direct recourse on RIAR for the contract execution.
    IRC MBIR consortium will manage the budgeting process including consortium share (administrative costs of the consortium management) and the budget for irradiation service which will define the cost&pricing model for the irradiation contracts. Early bird participation will provide privileged access to the reactor services and preferential pricing vs contractual users coming at a later stage.

Contracting procedures.

    Any customer requiring MBIR services will have first to accept the terms of the consortium which will define the basic procedural rules of contracting, pricing, access priorities and coordination with other users.
    The contract is signed directly between RIAR and the customer so that the research is conducted on a confidential basis the results are available to the signatory (only). [Signatories in case of a unincorporated multilateral collaboration.]
    For multilateral programs, the contract will be signed by all participating parties (previously joining the consortium as associated members or key members) or with a nominated and authorized representative of such a collaboration as the case may be.
    Key consortium member /consortium co-founders will sign bilateral framework agreements with RIAR providing for a long-term access to the reactor resource and defining the amount of prepayment (“capital cost part” of the price) which serves as an entrance ticket and provides for the preferred and guaranteed reactor resource share (subject to further annual payment of the “operating cost part” of the price during the operating period). The long-term contract with the operator in conjunction with the consortium basic terms will provide for a quasi-ownership of the reactor resource, volume and parameters exactly fitting the requirements of the partner.
    Associated members (joining at a later stage) under the consortium basic terms will sign off-taker contracts with RIAR which may be requested for an assignment f/o the financing institutions providing support to the project at the construction stage.
    Extra services relating to post-irradiation research will be contracted separately outside the scope of the consortium terms as long as they do not affect the work of MBIR or a performance of RIAR relating thereto.
    Share in IRC MBIR will certify a pro rata share of the reactor neutron flux committed to the participant.
    The ultimate perspective goal of the flux sharing concept is to set up a system where the title for the flux share can become a marketable product applicable not only within IRC MBIR community but also outside as a cross-reactor trade.


goal of the flux sharing concept

    In the dream-scheme, the flux share is “transferable” and may be used not only for the shareholder’s own research but also
    • sub-leased (without change of the membership) to other members or third parties at a “market” price
    • merged with other members for joint research or assigned in exchange of the research results
    • swapped in time – which may be of interest for members with small shares using merged shares in turns.






Participation and management


Types of participation:

    Depending on the timing of accession and the intended overall tenor of participation there may be two major types of membership.


          • 1) IRC consortium key members.


    Long terms participants joining at the early stage, providing capital cost funding (as prepayments) for tailor-made reactor equipping aimed at the preferences of the key members.
    Mostly with the national (or individual) long-term research programs.
    As a consortium co-founder will have the preferred position – negotiating the initial basic consortium terms, a guaranteed reactor recourse per year depending on the size of committed investments, a seat in the Steering committee with a decisive vote on corporate (consortium) matters.


          • 2) Associated members.


    Contractual users joining after commissioning or joining for particular multilateral programs.


    These members will not have a seat in the Steering council but will have a consultative vote within an Advisory Board.


    Associated members will not share the investment cost but the ongoing price will be much higher including capital cost share, ongoing operating costs, cost of equipping and financial costs. Estimates show that the commercial price may be twice higher than the cost for the key members. And even higher if requires extra equipping or replacement of the initial kit components.


          • 3) Multilateral research program.


    It is the intention to propose a certain list of topics where the research can be conducted on a multilateral basis with the results going to all the participating / funding parties.


    Such multilateral collaborations will be set within the consortium and subject to the basic terms thereof.


    Multilateral programs will be available for both key and associated members.


    The cost of the programs will be calculated at the actual cost of services but the participating parties will have discounts per their status in the consortium.


        • General research program including allocation of the reactor resource to the key participants per their share and drafting multilateral research topics will be under the authority of the Advisory Board which will include representatives of key members, associated members, representatives of the operator and independent experts being representatives of the leading research institutions and other related international organizations.


Steering Committee

    consisting of representatives of key participants and strategic assosiated members (long term users) as an option.
    Steering Committee approves and ratifies initiatives of the Advisory Board and effects control and coordination of all IRC managing structures.

Consortium leader

    acts as administrator and operating liaison, coordinator, and manager and is in charge of the day-to-day administering activities.


    is the designated controller

Reactor operator

              • ensures the reactor complex functioning and enables execution of the research program as requested by the IRC.
                Advisory Board key mandates are:
              • Consolidation of research applications (for the scope of resource utilization) from IRC members and their prioritization per statute in the consortium.
              • Coordination of collaborations for multilateral research programs for certain research areas.
              • Budgeting and consortium funding coordination.
              • Identification of the priority areas for the reactor research, analysis of the technological trends, stimulating market demand for innovations in technologies and reactor services.
              • Expertize of the proposals from participants for multilateral implementation within IRC, setting and administering of collaborations.
                Advisory Board is headed by the Chairman who is appointed by the IRC Steering Committee.





Areas of research

New reactor technologies development (Generation III+, IV) and related subjects

            • Many research institutions are involved in design of the new generation of reactors based on fast neutron technology including the concept of small modular reactors with dense metal coolants.
              Within ESNII 4 projects are now at a design stage but the general intention is to proceed someday with a prototype construction which requires not only paperwork but practical tests of materials and coolants with resistant qualities exceeding those for thermal reactors.
              The design may live with a computer modeling but construction will require a close-to-reality test. MBIR will be the only fast reactor fully equipped for such option. For a complex experiment, a good option would be a loop channel with a fast reactor – a reactor-inside-a-reactor mini prototype.
              With MBIR there is a place for 3 loops with different coolants – the first to come will be the first to define the priority loop (coolant) type.

Stage I starting from ~2020

            • Structural elements materials research:

            • research of the structural materials for the active zones for the new types of reactors, fuel elements tests under high dose fast neutrons irradiation with different temperature regimes;
            • research & development of the radiation, temperature, and corrosion resistant materials for the fusion and other advanced types of reactors.
              Fuel and fuel rods research:

              • Testing of different types of fuel, fuel rods, and cladding for the new generation of reactors; 
              • Closed fuel cycle technologies design;
              • Long living radioactive elements handling;
              • Testing of the dense fuel containing minor actinides;
              • Radioactive waste and spent fuel management;
              • Development and safety recommendations for fuel fabrication and FA design.

Stage II starting from ~2025

              • Coolants performance:

              • Research in the independent loop-channels;
              • Simulation of the active zones elements behavior with different coolants.

Other research

              • Isotope technology & production

                • Experimental validation and development of the radionuclides production technologies

                  • Silicon doping technology research;
                  • Production of large diameter silicon ingots;
                  • New materials research; 
                  • High dose irradiation & research of new advanced structural materials: high flux = accelerated doze accumulation = reduction of the research timeframe.
Key reasons to join IRC MBIR
                • Reactor complex MBIR is a unique tool for the technologies of the future and also for the experimental studies for improving the technologies of the present.
                  Merging financial and scientific resources will improve the efficiency for all the parties involved.
                  Cost sharing via international syndicate provides best value for money vs a national research reactor and saving on the national infrastructure required to build and operate a research reactor.
                  The first to come will be the first to define the configuration of the equipping and prioritize the research areas.
                  A platform for knowledge sharing via joint research may be established.
                  Research institutions with the aging reactors will have an opportunity for the continuous research in case their own reactors are shut down and will get extra time for strategic decisions on a replacing option.
                  Operator with 60years of research reactor managing experience and on-site supporting facilities guaranty safe and due performance of the reactor and experiments execution.

A fundamental pillar for corporate communication between IRC members – Thesaurus of International Nuclear Information System

Source: Rosatom IRC MBIR project group