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Heavy Water Zero Power Reactor (ENTC-HWZPR)

  • Location
    Esfahan (Isfahan) Nuclear Technology Center (ENTC)
  • Type
    Nuclear-Research and Development
  • Facility Status
    Operational

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About

China constructed the Heavy Water Zero Power Reactor (HWZPR) in 1991, and the unit first became operational in 1995. 1 The reactor uses heavy water as a moderator and runs on natural uranium fuel. 2 Although the reactor is not suitable for producing plutonium, Iran has been able to use it to gain experience in the control of heavy water reactors in preparation for managing larger units such as the IR-40 currently under construction at Arak.

In April 2013, the AEOI began testing prototype natural uranium fuel assemblies for eventual use in the IR-40 heavy water reactor at the HWZPR. According to experts at the Institute for Science and International Security, “Iran may have a number of possible reasons for testing the prototype Arak fuel at the Zero Power Reactor,” including testing “the quality of the uranium fuel and cladding … [and] the process of starting the fission chain reaction in general.” 3

Glossary

Uranium
Uranium is a metal with the atomic number 92. See entries for enriched uranium, low enriched uranium, and highly enriched uranium.
Plutonium (Pu)
Plutonium (Pu): A transuranic element with atomic number 94, produced when uranium is irradiated in a reactor. It is used primarily in nuclear weapons and, along with uranium, in mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Plutonium-239, a fissile isotope, is the most suitable isotope for use in nuclear weapons.
Fission
The splitting of the nucleus of a heavy atom into two lighter nuclei (called fission fragments). It is accompanied by the release of neutrons, gamma rays, and fission fragments with large amounts of kinetic energy.  It is usually triggered by absorption of a neutron, but in some cases may be induced by protons, gamma rays or other particles

Sources

  1. “Nuclear Research Reactors in the World, Research Reactor Details - ENTC HWZPR,” International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
  2. “Nuclear Research Reactors in the World, Research Reactor Details - ENTC HWZPR,” International Atomic Energy Agency, www.iaea.org.
  3. David Albright and Christina Walrond, “Update on the Arak Reactor,” Institute for Science and International Security, 15 July 2013, www.isis-online.org.

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