VR-2 is the tenth nuclear reactor operating in the Czech Republic. Credit: aktualne.cvut.cz.

10th Czech Nuclear Reactor Comes Into Operation At Czech Technical University in Prague

On Tuesday, 6 June, the Faculty of Nuclear and Physical Engineering (FJFI) at the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague started operation of its second school fission nuclear reactor, VR-2. Overall, it is the tenth nuclear reactor operating in the Czech Republic; in addition to the two school reactors, the Research Center in Řež operates two research reactors, and six nuclear reactors are operated in the two nuclear power plants operated by ČEZ. The Faculty is launching VR-2 exactly one year after the construction permit was obtained from the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB). The new reactor is in the same reactor hall where the university has operated the VR-1 reactor since 1990.

“One could say that a nuclear renaissance is coming in the world – more and more people are realising that without nuclear power, humanity cannot have a sufficient amount of clean energy,” said Vojtěch Petráček, rector of CTU. “However, it also means that we need experts. And it is precisely their education that the new VR-2 reactor will primarily serve.” CTU thus becomes the only university in the world that operates two fission reactors as well as a fusion reactor – the Golem tokamak.

“The new fission reactor VR-2 will help us to schedule teaching and scientific activities better, because we ran into capacity limits with the VR-1 reactor,” explained Václav Čuba, dean of FJFI. “It serves not only students of our faculty, that is CTU, but also students of other universities, foreign students and, of course, also people from professional practice who come to us for various training.” 

In cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the VR-1 reactor was equipped with the Internet Reactor Laboratory system, so that it is possible to conduct teaching and training online. This option is regularly used by students from the USA, Great Britain, Tunisia and other countries.

The VR-2 reactor is a so-called subcritical reactor and therefore cannot sustain a fission chain reaction without an external source of neutrons. When the external neutron source is turned off, the fission stops. The operation of the reactor is thus simpler and safer, and thanks to this, its construction was significantly simpler.

“The launch of the VR-2 reactor will complete the process that we started in 2014,” added Jan Rataj, head of the FJFI Department of Nuclear Reactors. “The construction itself was very fast and took only about a year. This is because it is a relatively small device, even compared to the VR-1 reactor. But it is still a nuclear facility, the preparation, construction and operation of which are subject to a number of different regulations which we had to meet.” 

The faculty obtained the fuel for the new reactor in 2018, donated by Finland’s Aalto University. Construction was made simpler by the fact that the reactor is located in the reactor hall, which already meets the requirements for the operation of this facility as the location of the VR-1 reactor. At the same time, it had enough space to accommodate a second reactor without difficulty.

10th Czech Nuclear Reactor Comes Into Operation At Czech Technical University in Prague
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