On July 12 and 13, the town of Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk Region hosted the first meeting of the Advisory Board of the MBIR International Research Centre. The event was attended in person and online by more than 80 scientists, experts and executive officers from more than 30 leading research centres in Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Algeria, Armenia; from international organizations – the IAEA and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna.
When greeting the participants of the first meeting of the Advisory Board, Yuri Olenin, Deputy Director General for Science and Strategy of the State Corporation Rosatom, stated the importance of the MBIR project and its contribution to developing the new-generation nuclear technology. He emphasized that the MBIR project would provide the global nuclear industry with modern and technologically advanced research infrastructure for the next 50 years. According to Yuri Olenin, "Our today's event is an important starting point for our future long-term joint work in this area. I would like to note that we are considering the organisations who participate in the Advisory Board's work as potential members of the IRC MBIR Consortium. I am sure that their joint work on the Advisory Board's platform will help all its members to better understand all the opportunities of this truly unique facility, while laying a solid basis for our cooperation that will be even closer in the future".
The first meeting of the Advisory Board took place in the premises of RIAR, the owner of the construction site for the MBIR research reactor. The Institute has 6 active research reactors, including the world famous BOR-60 reactor to be replaced by MBIR, the Europe's largest facility for post-reactor research of nuclear reaction core elements, a system of facilities for research and development in the field of nuclear fuel cycle, a radiochemical centre and a radioactive waste management centre.
During the first day of their work at the event, the members of the Advisory Board's meeting visited the MBIR construction site and could see the construction progress. Due to the efforts of the State Corporation Rosatom's construction division, this project made a notable progress over the past year, and the construction plan in 2021 was exceeded by 8%.
Welcoming the participants of the meeting, Aleksandr Tuzov, Director of RIAR, noted, "RIAR is a concentration point for unique specialists where all the necessary infrastructure is compactly arranged for carrying out reactor experiments and post-reactor research. Our site preserves scientific traditions and a vast experience in achieving successful results that are in demand all over the world".
According to Stepan Kalmykov, Chairman of the IRC MBIR Advisory Board, Academician of the Russian Academy of Science, Dean of the Department of Chemistry of Lomonosov Moscow State University, "Modern science and its breakthroughs that allow us to look beyond the horizon are not made on routine machines and serial equipment; all truly great breakthroughs are made in unique scientific research facilities, such as the MBIR reactor, whereas collaborations with the PIK research reactor, which was launched in 2021 at Saint Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute (a division of Kurchatov Institute Research and Development Centre), will open the opportunities for cutting-edge fundamental and applied research which will allow us to look decades ahead and make the most powerful breakthroughs in science".
Making a presentation on the structure of and procedure for the Advisory Board work, he said, "Today, our task is not just to meet and get to know all the members of the Advisory Board, but also to study its essence – to fill and discuss in detail the international scientific programme which will guide all potential members of the IRC MBIR Consortium. It will be a dynamic document that we can discuss and supplement".
During the meeting, Petr Chakrov, Head of the IAEA Research Reactors Section, presented a report on the experience of international centres based on research reactors. Valery Shvetsov, Director of Frank Laboratory of Neutron Physics of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, made a presentation about research on extracted neutron beams.
Foreign participants – Ilham Sadikov, Director of the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan; Yang Hongyi, Deputy Head of the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE); and Erbolat Koyanbaev, Deputy Director for Materials Science Research of the Republican State Enterprise "National Nuclear Centre" of the Republic of Kazakhstan, spoke about the development of national projects and prospective studies at the MBIR facility as part of their cooperation with Rosatom. The Russian programme for advanced experimental research was presented by Dmitry Klinov, Deputy Scientific Supervisor for Promising Topics of IPPE JSC.
During the event, the participants of the Advisory Board's meeting were divided into dedicated committees: for closing the nuclear fuel cycle; for the study of materials and fuels; for the safe use of nuclear technology; for code validation; and for non-power applications of nuclear technology.
According to Konstantin Vergazov, CEO of IRC MBIR LLC (a State Corporation Rosatom company), "Currently, I can say with confidence that thorough joint efforts of the scientific community we were able to create an international research platform on the basis of the IRC MBIR Consortium. Members of the Advisory Board will define the trends to form the basis for the development of global nuclear science and industry in the medium- term and long-term horizon. They will develop approaches to creating high-tech and safe generation IV nuclear generation facilities".
The committees will study in detail the research areas for the future international programme at the MBIR reactor facilities to be presented for discussion at the second meeting of the IRC MBIR Board by the end of 2022.
The State Corporation Rosatom is constructing the unique research facility – MBIR – under the comprehensive programme titled "Development of Engineering, Technology and Scientific Research in the Field of Using the Nuclear Power in the Russian Federation". The reactor is being built in Dimitrovgrad, Ulyanovsk Region, on the site of RIAR. On the basis of the MBIR reactor, the International Research Centre (IRC) is to be created: its research team will include Russian and international specialists. The Centre's activities will be implemented by the MBIR Reactor International Research Centre Consortium. This approach will allow for a flexible use of the reactor resource to meet the needs of the scientific community.