Last Updated: October 1, 2009
Other Name: Multi-Purpose Reactor (MPR); ET-RR-2
Location: Nuclear Research Center (NRC), Inshas (NE Cairo suburb)
Subordinate To: Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), National Center for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control (NCNSRC) [1]
Size: 22MW research reactor [2]
Facility Status: Operational

The ETRR-2 is a 22MW pool-type research reactor [3] constructed by the Argentine company INVAP. [4] The reactor's uses include radioisotope production, medical and nuclear solid-state research, nuclear-engineering experiments, material-fuel tests, and training of scientists and technical personal. [5] Due to its relatively large size (for a research reactor), the reactor is especially useful for training power reactor operators. [6] The reactor is under IAEA safeguards. [7]

The ETRR-2 went critical in 1997 and operates 42 weeks per year with a staff of 42, including 15 operators. [8] Russia supplied the initial 19.75% enriched uranium fuel load, and since 1998 Egypt has fabricated the fuel rods for the ETRR-2 at its Fuel Manufacturing Pilot Plant. [9] The ETRR-2 is an open pool-type reactor with a light water moderator and a beryllium reflector, cooled by natural circulation of the pool water. A pool with sufficient storage for the lifetime of the reactor holds its spent fuel. Basic safety features of the reactor include: 1) upwards cooling flow; 2) free access of reactor personnel to the top of the pool with the reactor operating at full power and easy access to the reactor core from the top of the pool; 3) control and safety rod drives located below the reactor tank; 4) two independent reactor shut down systems: the reactor control and safety plates and a gadolinium injection system; 5) cooling of the core during shutdown by natural circulation of the pool water through the core; and 6) a water injection system to protect against loss of coolant accidents (LOCA). [10]

Some analysts worry about the reactor's proliferation risk, with the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control predicting that the ETRR-2 is capable of producing enough plutonium to make one nuclear weapon per year, [11] and a 2008 IISS report estimating that it could produce roughly 6 kg plutonium per year. [12] Egypt could also theoretically recover the enriched uranium from the reactor's unirradiated fuel and use it as feedstock for further enrichment. However, the ETRR-2 is under IAEA safeguards, making any Egyptian attempts at diversion detectable. Furthermore, Egypt's lack of a uranium enrichment capability limits the proliferation risk associated with the reactor's unirradiated fuel. [13]

Sources:
[1] Judith Perera, "Nuclear Industry of Egypt," March 2003, p. 23, www.opensource.gov.
[2] The 14 February 2005 IAEA report lists the ETRR-2 as a 22.5MW research reactor. However, the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority and INVAP websites, and the IAEA research reactor database (www.iaea.org/ worldatom/ rrdb) all list the ETRR-2 as a 22MW reactor. Thus, it appears that the more widely used 22MW figure is accurate.
[3] James M. Acton and Wyn Q. Bowen, "Atoms for Peace in the Middle East: The Technical and Regulatory Requirements," NPEC Working Paper Series, 2008, p. 13.
[4] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, Mark Fitzpatrick ed., (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 22.
[5] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, Mark Fitzpatrick ed., (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 26.
[6] James M. Acton and Wyn Q. Bowen, "Atoms for Peace in the Middle East: The Technical and Regulatory Requirements," NPEC Working Paper Series, 2008, p. 13.
[7] IAEA, "Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Arab Republic of Egypt: Report by the Director General," 14 February 2005, p. 2, www.carnegieendowment.org.
[8] Judith Perera, "Nuclear Industry of Egypt," March 2003, p. 23, www.opensource.gov.
[9] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, Mark Fitzpatrick ed., (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 26.
[10] For additional design specifications see: Judith Perera, "Nuclear Industry of Egypt," March 2003, p. 23, www.opensource.gov. INVAP, "Reactor ETRR-2 (Egypt)," www.invap.net.
[11] "Egypt's Budding Nuclear Program," Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, The Risk Report, Vol. 2, Number 5 (September-October 1996).
[12] Nuclear Programmes in the Middle East: In the Shadow of Iran, Mark Fitzpatrick ed., (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2008), p. 26.
[13] Barbary M. Gregory, "Egypt's Nuclear Program: Assessing Supplier Based and Other Developmental Constraints," The Nonproliferation Review, Fall 1995, p. 3.

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