Towards the realisation of small modular reactors

A delegation of Hungarian nuclear professionals visited Argentina at the end of November 2022 to study the implementation of small modular reactors.

The delegation was led by Andrea Beatrix Kádár, President of the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (OAH). In addition to OAH staff members, Attila Aszódi, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the BME, also participated in the visit.

Argentinian and Hungarian experts in front of the CAREM-25 construction

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are under development or implementation in several countries and represent a completely new and innovative approach to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Their small size is expected to make them faster to build than the large plants. The smaller size requires lower investment costs, and the shorter construction time reduces financing costs as well (lower interest costs on capital), which improves the return on investment for this type of reactors. The smaller reactor core contains less fissile material and less radioactivity, so cooling can be easier under normal operating and accidental conditions. In addition to their innovative technical solutions, SMRs offer an exciting potential for combined heat and power production for medium-size cities and industrial sites, but they can also play a role in hydrogen production, offering an exceptional solution to the current energy supply crisis with high natural gas prices in the medium and long term.

In recent years, several SMR concepts have emerged in the international arena, but few are currently at the implementation stage. One of these advanced concepts is the CAREM-25 reactor with a rated electrical power of 32 MW under construction at the Atucha nuclear power plant site in Argentina, near the municipality of Lima, Buenos Aires province.

The delegation in the reactor shaft

Signing of the trilateral protocol

The Hungarian delegation visited the head office of the CNEA (National Atomic Energy Commission of Argentina), the project promoter, in Buenos Aires, the construction site of the CAREM-25 reactor and the nuclear fuel fabrication plant near the Argentine capital. The Hungarian delegation held consultations with the experts working on the design and construction of the CAREM-25 reactor and visited the reactor island under construction and the turbine island being built. At the end of the visit, the representatives of CNEA, OAH and BME signed a trilateral protocol in which they expressed their intention to develop a cooperation agreement for education and research cooperation in the field of nuclear safety of small modular reactors.



Faculty of Natural Sciences (TTK)

Photo sources: BME TTK