The Halden Reactor Project
International cooperation in an effective, result-oriented environment. Safe and reliable operation of nuclear power plants benefit from R&D advances and related technical solutions. The OECD Halden Reactor Project is a leader in these advances with programmes devised to provide answers in a direct and effective manner. The Project's strong international profile and solid technical basis represent an asset for the nuclear community at a time in which maintaining centres of expertise at accessible cost becomes increasingly important.
The Halden Project is a joint undertaking of national organizations in 19 countries sponsoring a jointly financed programme under the auspices of the OECD – Nuclear Energy Agency. Discussions are under way for enlarging the member circle. Collaborations with East-European countries in support of plant safety and reliability are also expanding. The programmes are to generate key information for safety and licensing assessments and aim at providing:
- Extended fuel utilization: Basic data on how the fuel performs in commercial reactors, both at normal operation and transient conditions, with emphasis on extended fuel utilization.
- Degradation of core materials: Knowledge of plant materials behaviour under the combined deteriorating effects of water chemistry and nuclear environment.
- Man-Machine Systems: Advances in computerized surveillance systems, human factors and man-machine interaction in support of upgraded control rooms. These are collectively known as The Joint Programme.
Key features of the Joint Programme:
- Practical applicablity of results
- Continuously upgraded facilities
- Qualified technical personnel
- Innovative technologies
The Joint programme is financed by the participating countries and is renewed every three years. As a host country, Norway covers about 30% of the Joint programme cost.
The Project’s employees include, amongst others, ~120 university graduates and ~25 foreign experts on temporary assignment. The number of employees has been gradually increasing during the last 5 years as the work programme expanded.
The programme results are systematically reported in Halden Work Reports and in Enlarged meetings organized by the Project. Participants’ activities are also presented at these meetings. Special workshops with participation of experts are frequently arranged for in-depth assessments of specific issues.
A number of organizations in the participating countries execute their own development work in collaboration with the Project. These bilateral arrangements constitute an important complement to the Joint programme.
The Halden reactor is regarded in many countries as a strategic asset for testing fuel and reactor components. The plant operation has always been very satisfactory and authority requirements have been fulfilled with ample margins.The personnel involved in the reactor operation and maintenance have long experience and are continuously being updated on new methods and technologies. The plant is continuously modernized with new installations and components.
The reactor and its main circuits are inspected by independent Norwegian authorities every third year. The inspections include fracture mechanics testing of pressure vessel specimens and ultrasonic examination of the pressure vessel, with a final over-pressure test. The results constitute a solid technical basis securing future long term reactor operation.
The reactor runs at a maximum thermal power of 20 MW and contains numerous test positions thus providing flexible test conditions. About 30 test rigs are currently installed in the Halden reactor core. A number of in-reactor loops are installed for performing experiments at prototypical coolant conditions. These loops are in particular utilized for corrosion and stress corrosion studies and for water chemistry investigations.
The experimental work is supported by a solid technical infrastructure including workshops, electronics and chemistry laboratories and by a computerized Data Bank. Post irradiation examinations and rod refabrications are conducted in the Kjeller hot laboratory.
The organizations participating in the Halden Project represent a complete cross section of the nuclear community, including licensing and regulatory bodies, vendors, utility industry and research organizations. The active guidance and scrutiny exerted by all participants on the programmes ensure that they remain focused on issues of direct and practical relevance.
The programme is executed by the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) at its Halden establishment. All technologies and products developed in the programme are available to participants, who also have access to Halden facilities and expertise for their own development work. Several programme items have applications in a range of non-nuclear industries as demonstrated by a number of projects carried out in cooperation with participant organizations.