University fission nuclear reactor

University fission nuclear reactor

Czech Technical University in Prague

For more than 30 years, the university VR-1 fission nuclear reactor (nicknamed Vrabec – Sparrow) has been serving Czech and foreign students as well as scientist. This reactor, which is operated by the Department of Nuclear Reactors at the Faculty of Nuclear and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague, was started up for the first time on December 3, 1990 at 16:25. However, preparations for its construction started as early as in 1982.

The VR-1 'Vrabec' is a globally unique device, placing the Czech Republic among the elite in the nuclear field. Its output power output is very low – less than that of an ordinary electric kettle. Therefore, there is no need to cool the water in which the reaction takes place. Thanks to the reactor's low power, its unique design and its surroundings, the whole unit is perfectly optimised for teaching students and allowing them to get literally hands-on training in physics.

Despite its near-zero power, this reactor is subject to similar safety measures as reactors in nuclear power plants. The process of building it, which took eight years, was similarly demanding.

In addition to teaching and training, the reactor is also used for research, particularly in the fields of reactor physics and neutron physics, nuclear safety and computational tools for nuclear reactor analyses. The Department also focuses on advanced nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel cycles and spent fuel. They use the reactor for non-destructive analyses of various items: Tibetan medicine or mammoth bones, for example, have been studied in a 'reactor-aided' manner.

Photo: Jiří Ryszawy

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