The production line of virtual (non-nuclear) fuel for the 40-megawatt heavy water nuclear reactor in the Iranian city of Arak has been launched at a nuclear facility in the provincial capital of Isfahan.
The virtual fuel for Arak’s reactor is needed for the pre-launch tests of nuclear reactors — including hydraulic and hydrodynamic tests, the fuel charging of nuclear reactors, the removal of spent fuel from reactors’ cores and the replacement of spent material with fresh fuel. Virtual fuel tablets are made of lead and are meant to imitate enriched uranium while actual nuclear fuel tablets are made of uranium oxide.
The special parts, required for the production of virtual fuel for Arak’s reactor, consist of zirconium shields, upper and lower plugs, lead fuel tablets, nozzle pipes for the fuel, supporting structures as well as steel components.
All the zirconium parts will be produced in Isfahan’s nuclear facility, while the steel components will be supplied by other Iranian manufactures, Fars news agency reported on Sunday.
The director of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Fereydoun Abbasi, announced on February 17 that Arak’s reactor will be initially launched within the first half of the Iranian calendar year, 1391 (started March 20, 2012).
Iran argues that a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.