Coordination Meeting

31 May 2024

Recently, a coordination meeting was held in Astana to discuss the issues related to conversion of research reactors and utilization of highly enriched uranium (hereinafter referred as HEU) fuel within Kazakhstan's territory. The Meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the National Nuclear Center of the RK, and the Office of Material Management and Minimization of the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the meeting, the participants discussed the achievements under the project and outlined their plans for future work.

On the sidelines of meeting, the representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan highly appraised the successful work of NNC RK in support of non-proliferation regime, particularly in minimizing the use of highly enriched uranium in research reactors.

Specifically, the successful implementation of several stages of project implementation has been recognized. They include commissioning the IVG 1.M reactor into operation on the LEU fuel in May 2023, completing procedures for repackaging and placing spent HEU fuel of the IVG 1.M reactor into specially designed storage facilities, and obtaining a positive appraisal of research work results from the IAEA to find the ways for reducing enrichment of spent HEU fuel from the IVG 1.M reactor and its utilization.

The significant attention of participants was paid to the unique technology developed by specialists of NNC RK, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, for immobilizing down-blend graphite fuel into the cement matrix. The specialists highlighted the lack of similar international experience and emphasized the success of the NNC specialists in developing this unique technological process.

Discussion on the successful testing of mixing and crushing equipment that will be used for down-blending of HEU—IGR reactor fuel, both parties agreed that if the current progress is maintained, the next significant phase, which involves down-blending of irradiated HEU fuel from the IGR reactor, could potentially commence as early as the end of 2025.