What We Know About the Multi-Purpose Saudi Nuclear Research Reactor
By Abdullah Al Barqi
Translation by Maya Hardimon
November 6, 2018
Saudi Arabia is moving at a steady pace toward creating a nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes. A low-energy nuclear research reactor project was inaugurated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of seven strategic projects in the fields of renewable and atomic energy, water desalination, genetic medicine, and aircraft manufacturing in the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
This project aims to establish the first nuclear research reactor in the kingdom. The multi-purpose reactor will contribute to developing human resources and scientific research competency; advancing nuclear engineering and specialized scientific research; developing the nuclear industry; and transferring of these technologies, which will support the kingdom’s national atomic energy project.
The specifications and design of this reactor have been developed by KACST specialists with the participation of international experts, following the highest national and international standards for nuclear engineering projects set by the International Atomic Energy Agency for nuclear reactor design, nuclear fuel, quality control and control systems, and nuclear safety analysis reports.
The reactor is designed to use 2.1% enriched uranium oxide fuel and to produce up to 100 kW. In the current phrase, the construction of the project has commenced, the nuclear reactor basin was installed, and nuclear fuel manufacturing has begun. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
This low-energy research reactor is meant to be a building block supporting nuclear research and the transfer of global knowledge and technology. The laboratories and advanced equipment at the National Center for Nuclear Technology will serve research and technical cooperation with universities and local research centers. Access to the facilities will be provided to post-graduate students, especially in the case of radiation measurement laboratories and national calibration laboratories. The Center has potential in the measurement and monitoring of radon and the determination of radiation contamination in the city outside the laboratories.
The reactor was designed to be a multi-purpose pillar in the development of human resources in the scientific fields, particularly in the areas of nuclear sciences. The reactor’s design was developed by specialists with the participation of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy with the highest international safety standards.
To read the article in its original Arabic, click here.