The Faculty of Nuclear Sciences & Physical Engineering (FNSPE) of the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague has launched its second research and training reactor, VR-2. In addition to the two training reactors, the Research Centre in Rež operates two research reactors. The Faculty launched the VR-2 exactly a year after it announced that its construction had been authorised by the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB). The new reactor is situated in the same reactor hall as VR-1, which has been operated by the Faculty since 1990.
“We can say that a nuclear renaissance is dawning in the world because more and more people are becoming aware that without nuclear energy, mankind cannot generate enough clean energy, and this also implies that we need qualified experts,” said CTU Rector, Associate Professor Vojtech Petrácek. “It is their training and education the VR-2 will serve above all. He added that CTU is the only university worldwide operating not only two fission reactors, VR-1 and VR-2 – but also a fusion reactor – the Golem tokamak.
“With the new VR-2 fission reactor teaching and research activities will be easier to schedule, because with the VR-1 we have been facing capacity limits,” explained FNSPE Dean, Associate Professor Václav Cuba. “VR-1 serves not only students from our home Faculty but also students from other faculties at CTU and other universities; it is available to train foreign students and even staff from industry.” In cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) VR-1 was equipped with the Internet Reactor Laboratory System, so on-line teaching and training is also possible and is used by students from abroad.
“Launching VR-2 is the climax of a process we started in 2014,” said the Head of the Department of Nuclear Reactors, Jan Rataj. “The construction was very quick and took approximately one year due to the small size of the facility, which cannot compare with the VR-1. But it is still a nuclear facility subject to various regulations that must be complied with.”
The VR-2 reactor is a subcritical facility, and so without an external source of neutrons it cannot sustain a fission chain reaction. This makes operation easier, and safer, and its design parameters are significantly less demanding. The fuel for VR-2 was donated in 2018 by the Aalto University of Finland. Its construction was facilitated by situating the VR-2 reactor in the same reactor hall as the VR-1, which already complies with siting regulations.