FNCA 2019 Workshop on Research Reactor Utilization Project
September 10-12, 2019
The Research Reactor Utilization (RRU) project workshop was held over three days at the National Nuclear Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NNC RK).
The first half of the first day (Sept. 10) was allocated to a plenary session in which the individual project leaders of Japan provided an overview of the current projects of RRU and Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) and referred to several major issues of the workshop. Parallel sessions were held from the second half of the first day to the second day (Sep. 11). In the RRU sessions, Nuclear Science including Human Resource Development (HRD) was presented sequentially by individual participating countries. In the NAA sessions, each country presented progress on the activities related to air pollution and mineral resources and then discussed a number of topics, including linkages with end-users. The detailed content of the discussions was summarized for each of the two groups, RRU and NAA. On the third day (Sep. 12), the technical visit to IVG.1M reactor was held in the morning and the Open Seminar was held at NNC in the afternoon.
[Parallel session (RRU)]
RRU-1: Nuclear science including HRD
Lead speech 1 "Utilization of the NNC RK Research Reactors" (Mr. Valentine Tskhe, Kazakhstan)
The presentation started from the history of the establishment of NNC RK and provided facts about the history of the NNC RK Research Reactors (RR). Next the main technical parameters of the NNC RK RRs were presented and test benches for the different kinds of experiments that have been successfully carried out were described. The current state of the NNC RK RRs conversion process was also briefly described. Following that, the HRD activity of the NNC RK was addressed, including domestic and international cooperation programs. The NNC RK's plans are noted at the end of this report.
Lead speech 2 "Research the processes of Nuclear Reaction Energy Conversion to Optical Radiation Energy" (Mr. Kuanysh Samarkhanov, Kazakhstan)
The presenter described in stages the technology of creating a surface source of high-energy tritium ions and α-particles, formed as a result of a nuclear reaction of the interaction of the 6Li isotope with thermal neutrons. Further, the presenter described the scheme of reactor experiments to study the spectral-luminescent characteristics of nuclear-excited plasma. Results of thermal-physical calculations of the experimental cell of the ampoule device with lithium CPS were presented. In-pile experiments that were carried out in the field of neutron radiation of the IVG 1M stationary reactor were described. The results of in-pile experiments were presented, showing the applicability of lithium for nuclear excitation of luminescence of noble gas mixtures. Plans for the laboratory were noted at the end of the report.
Lead speech 3 "Experiments for studying materials of fission and fusion reactors" (Mr. Arman Miniyazov, Kazakhstan)
An overview was presented of R&D projects conducted at the Institute of Atomic Energy, a branch of NNC RK. The results of a study of the interaction of fuel materials with the structure and refractory materials of a fission reactor were shown. In addition, the main results of research in support of fusion development, in particularly KTM Tokamak and ITER project, were presented. These included: a) high Li-burnup irradiation tests of a ceramic tritium breeder; 2) development of nuclear energy in the Republic of Kazakhstan; and 3) studies to justify the tritium safety of fusion devices.
Nuclear science is the key area for ANSTO to benefit all Australians and the global community in several areas, including human health. As per organizational priorities, ANSTO supplies nuclear medicine and drives innovation in health. ANSTO has a focus on developing knowledge, providing information through a Discovery Centre to school children, school teachers and members of the public, as well as offering training opportunities through internships for graduates, graduate recruitment, and post-graduate and post-doctoral research programs. ANSTO is creating an innovation center called 'nandin' adjacent to the Lucas Heights campus, a three-tiered development project which will comprise a deep technology incubator, a graduate center and a high technology industry component.
The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) is carrying out nuclear based research and development programs aimed at the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (INST) is performing research in various fields, including material science, biological science, and environmental science. INST also provides various services such as analytical, health physics, radioactive waste management, and radioisotope supply to many users; as such it is contributing to the development of the country. BAEC has different programs regarding nuclear education and training to contribute in the development of human resource. Bangladesh is looking forward to installing a new multipurpose research reactor, as well as refurbishing the existing RR to enhance its service life and utilization.
Utilization of the Siwabessy Multipurpose Reactor is not only for research activities in nuclear science and technology but also for a wide range of nuclear irradiation activities such as irradiation for the production of radioisotopes, gem stone coloration, NAA, and neutron beam applications such as neutron diffractometry and neutron spectrometry. A dedicated center for education and training is focused on increasing the competence of personnel in the field of nuclear science and technology, particularly related to safety and also to reactor utilization. Activities planned for the future include experiments to develop production methods for the semiconductor industry and also experiments in the Power Ramp Test Facility used for non-destructive tests for Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) type nuclear fuel test rods.
We continue to perform instrumental NAA (INAA) and radiochemical NAA (RNAA) of various kinds of samples in geo- and cosmo-chemistry and in material science, achieving nuclear science outcomes. As for topics in NAA, the Hayabusa project and our contribution to that was introduced, and then we reviewed our methods to treat such a tiny samples as were obtained in that project.
Additionally, 105Rh and 177Lu as RIs for medical use were produced by using the Kyoto University Reactor and the amounts produced were compared with those produced by electron linear accelerators.
Kazakhstan operates three research reactors and one critical facility. Two RR are located in Kurchatov and the other one is in Almaty. Utilization of the RRs covers a lot of nuclear research activities, both applied and fundamental. The RRs in Kurchatov (called as IVG1.M and IGR) are basically utilized for a wide application of materials research. The RR in Almaty (called WWR-K) is a multipurpose research reactor and utilized for RI production, NAA, neutron radiography, materials research and nuclear science and technology. Kazakhstan operates a Cyclone-30 accelerator which allows it to produce several types of RI. Kazakhstan plans to build a nuclear power plant (NPP) so structural materials research and HRD are both very important. Also, the development and construction of a high-resolution diffractometer at WWR-K reactor is being planned. Based at the Center for Nuclear Medicine and Biophysics of the Institute of Nuclear Physics, work is ongoing to expand the list of produced radioisotopes.
The Malaysia Nuclear Agency operates a 1 MW TRIGA reactor that comes with several irradiation facilities to cater for neutron science research, radioisotopes production, elemental analysis, education and training activities. The current research reactor is low power and has been operated for more than 35 years. The maximum neutron flux is 1 x 1012 cm-2.s-1. The reactor operates 4 days per week and around 8 hours per day. Despite that, the reactor is able to operate for long-run short-lived radioisotopes production at 18 to 24 hours continuously, upon request. Planning for a new research reactor is underway, to extend applications such as Mo production and enable advanced neutron beam experiments to be performed, thus expanding benefits. The new research reactor program aims to meet the growing demands for greater utilization and advanced applications.
In this presentation, main organizations of nuclear science in Mongolia and their research activities were introduced. Recent results from the Nuclear Research Center of the National University of Mongolia were presented. Utilization of the two medical linear accelerators (high and low energy) at the National Cancer Center of Mongolia was reported. In the last decade, cancer mortality has been increasing in Mongolia. One of the many factors leading to this problem has been a shortage of medical isotope supply.
In recent years, Thailand progressed most in the improvement of the neutron imaging facility. An external collimator was installed, and the L/D ratio was increased to 60. The rotating stage was redesigned to accommodate an object up to 10 kg. Standard samples are being analyzed to determine the capability of the new setup. Another major development is the decommissioning of neutron diffraction facility. A new facility is planned as a collaborative project between TINT and KAERI. For HRD, TINT and SLRI co-organize neutron-synchrotron science camps. However, an efficient users engagement program is still needed. The project for a new research reactor has been proposed to the government; public acceptance is still an issue.
The Dalat Nuclear Research Reactor (DNRR) with a nominal power of 500 kW is today the only one in Vietnam. After the reconstruction of the reactor in late 1983, it played a key role in nuclear science and its applications utilizing nuclear reactors for more than 35 years. Applications included: a) Production of radioisotopes and radiopharmaceuticals for medical use, radioisotopes for agriculture and industry application; b) Irradiation of samples for neutron activation analysis NAA; c) Neutron beam research (PGNAA, NR, nuclear data measurement, etc.); and d) Training of reactor operators, practical work for students and teachers from universities and also a program related to the development of human resources for a new research reactor.
RRU-2: General Discussion
The discussion aimed to assess the last three years of RRU projects amongst different member countries. A survey was conducted earlier by sending a questionnaire to all member countries. The summary of the survey results are presented in the table below:
(1=very poor, 2=poor, 3= average, 4= good, 5=very good)
Participants from the member countries added further comments on the survey. Based on the survey results and discussion, the preference of the projects is as below:
- RI production
- New Research Reactor
- BNCT, NR
- Material Research
- Nuclear Science
Projects related to RI production are the most preferred by participating countries. However, the following sub-topics may need to be addressed along with the topic as per member's comments:
- Radiation safety
- Patient safety
- QA and QC
All participants acknowledged that participation in the FNCA RRU projects has been beneficial in different aspects e.g. capability and weakness for individual members, technical difficulties, sharing knowledge for improvement, and visiting nuclear infrastructure for practical experience and networking.
RRU-3: Future plan of the RRU group for the next phase
The RRU projects has 8 themes and we have discussed all the topics during the last three years, 2017-2019. The topics were quite broad and therefore it was agreed to focus on specific topics in the next phase for better outcomes and improvements in knowledge.
The advantage of having this workshop every year is to discuss new themes in the RRU and to provide networking opportunities.
The RRU project would consider the following topics:
- Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA)
- Isotope Production including new isotopes
- Neutron Scattering
- BNCT, NR
- Material Research
- New Research Reactor
- Human Resource Development and so on.
The participants from member countries discussed several topics and then specific topics in the Nuclear Science field were considered for adoption in the next 3-year phase of the workshops. Possible topics included: Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) for environmental materials; Isotope Production for new isotopes including the purification for pharmaceutical use; QA/QC for practical use; and possible cooperation on new research reactors, some other topics and/or news if any.
[Parallel session (NAA)]
NAA-1: Activities related to air pollution and mineral resources
The new phase (Phase 5) began in 2015, starting with two sub-projects, namely air pollution and mineral resources. In the air pollution project, suspended particulate matter (SPM) samples, especially so-called PM2.5, are being collected in participating countries and the air pollution level at those sites is being monitored by analyzing these SPM samples by NAA and other methods. In the mineral resources project, minerals containing useful elements such as rare earth elements (REEs) and U are being analyzed by NAA and other methods, demonstrating the effectiveness and utilization of NAA in evaluating the presence and quality of mineral resources.
For the preparation of country reports, the Japanese project leader asked participants to include the following topics in their presentations:
- Evaluation of progress for the last 12 month period in comparison with the initial plan.
- Difficulties encountered and how those may have been overcome.
- Outstanding outcomes for the project(s).
- Efforts for strengthening linkages with end-users and any projects developed with end-users.
1) Air pollution
An air particulate matter (APM) study has been carried out from 2015 to 2019 at the Bandung City sampling site. Three important parameters of APM (mass fraction, key element, and profile of selected element) have been presented. Time series of mass concentration have been obtained for the fine and coarse fractions over the period. The analysis of key elements was discussed for soil, vehicle and biomass sources. Elemental concentrations of S, Fe, K, and Zn were also presented and discussed.
Through the collection and elemental analysis of SPMs, an evaluation of air quality in Kumatori, Osaka, is in progress. SPMs (PM2.5) are collected using a Multi-Nozzle Cascade Impact (MCI) sampler. The collection started on 29 May 2018 and is continuing. The SPM samples collected are analyzed using NAA (k0-method) and 24 elements have been quantified. Determination of the sources of SPMs is in progress.
Malaysia has continued to sample a site twice a week to collect fine (PM 2.5) and coarse particles (PM 2.5-10). Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) solution for samples collected in the period 2012-2017 identified 5 source factors each for the fine particles (motor vehicles, secondary sulfate, biomass burning, soil and road dust) and coarse particles (motor vehicles 1, motor vehicles 2, industrial chlorine, soil and soil construction).
In Mongolia, environmental analysis including air pollution and soil pollution were implemented by NAA and other related methods. Results of studies show that pollution levels are 4-10.7 times higher than standard values of air quality and soil quality. A recommendation was made to develop a new NAA method for APM filter analysis and to improve the bio-monitoring technique using NAA.
Under the MEXT program, a researcher was trained in the collection and analysis of SPM for air pollution studies at the Kyoto University Research Reactor (KUR), Japan. In collaboration with KAERI, Korea, the irradiation and measurement of PM's samples have been carried out in the Dalat research reactor. A Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) project on "Air quality and environmental impact assessment of coal-fired power plants" has been proposed for 2021-2022.
2) Mineral resources
Routine measurements for Australian companies include the determination of the homogeneity of gold in new reference materials and the determination of chlorine at different stages in titanium processing flowsheets. A new project to measure REEs in air sampling filters is being negotiated.
Sand from St Martin's Island was analyzed and no heavy minerals have been identified. In the last 12 months we have participated in two IAEA inter-comparison exercises and analyzed major, minor and REEs in samples of soil, sediment, spice etc. by NAA. We have increased our activities in the field of academic research, human resource development, collaborations and linkages with end-users.
The ITER facility is under construction in the south of France and includes the building of a Tokamak complex (B11). For safety, a correct assessment of the activation of the concrete is required to determine radiation dose rates after shutdown and decommissioning of the reactor. We are studying the chemical composition of concrete use INAA methods in order to make the assessment.
We continue to provide analytical services, especially to the Regulatory body (AELB), the mineral processing industry, mineral traders and Lynas (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd.
The preliminary results of two element concentrations in standard reference material (Montana Soil 2711a) were reported using k0-neutron activation analysis (k0-NAA). There were some errors that need to be understood and corrected. However, we will continue to develop k0-NAA for more precision and for multi-element determination.
REEs in 5 samples requested by customers have been analyzed by k0-NAA. The MOST project on "Investigation of REEs in archaeological samples in Cat Tien and Oc Eo-Ba The site" using k0-INAA and ICP-MS will be implemented in 2020-2021. The corrections for the variation of neutron flux in the aluminum can and the dead-time for short-lived isotopes in Cyclic Neutron Activation Analysis (CNAA) have been determined.
NAA-2: General Discussion
1) SPM sub-project
There was discussion of the SPM programs that have been implemented in participating countries. Good data have been obtained and at least one joint journal paper is being considered for publication in 2020. However, some limitations of NAA for this application have become apparent. One limitation is that NAA cannot measure some key elements such as Pb, Si and S. More importantly, the turnaround time for filter papers to be analyzed is too long and laboratories cannot cope with the large number of samples that are routinely collected. Nevertheless, there is value in measuring certain important elements (such as As, K, Br and Sb) using NAA and a number of countries have made a commitment to continuing their measurement program into the future.
2) REE/Mineral Resources sub-project
Although a suitable Japanese reference material for a new laboratory inter-comparison could not be found, participating countries continued to undertake measurements of mineral samples. Some activities included participation in the certification of reference materials for the mining industry, analysis of mineral processing products, and sediment analysis in areas affected by industrial pollution.
NAA-3: Future plan of NAA group for the next phase
There was common agreement that the focus of the proposed next phase of the NAA sub-project should be Environmental Monitoring. This unifying theme has several advantages. There is a broad range of potential end-users including government agencies, regulators, industry and researchers. The topic can include samples related to: airborne pollution; soil, river, lake and sea contamination; food and nutrition; industrial activity; erosion processes; etc. Through the application of multiple measurement techniques, participants will be able to identify key areas where NAA offers clear analytical advantages. Positive communications linking NAA to beneficial environmental outcomes can be expected.
NAA- 4: Conclusions
- The NAA group has continued to work towards meeting planned objectives and some significant advances have been achieved.
- Improvements in maintaining and growing productive linkages with end-users have continued.
- Two sub-projects, air pollution and mineral resources, will be completed in the current phase, ending in March 2020.
- It has been proposed that the next phase of the NAA sub-project, starting in April 2020, should be on the topic of Environmental Monitoring.