Opal reactor on Australian research roadmap

16 December 2016

The Australian Synchrotron and Opal Nuclear Research Reactor are identified as landmark facilities that will require ongoing investment in a draft National Infrastructure Research Roadmap released for public comment.

Opal research reactor - 460 (ANSTO)
Australia's Opal research reactor (Image: Ansto)

The roadmap sets out Australia's national research infrastructure priority areas for the coming decade. It outlines recommendations and priorities developed by an Expert Working Group (EWG) headed by Australia's chief scientist Alan Finkel and made up of eminent members of the country's research community, university sector, industry and government, including Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) CEO Adi Paterson. The EWG drew up its findings after consultations with stakeholders including the research community, universities, state, territory and federal government agencies, publicly funded research agencies, industry and operators of research infrastructure facilities.

Research infrastructure such as the Opal reactor and the Australian Synchrotron are recognised in the document as "a category of research infrastructure that is of such scale that the national interest is best served by landmark facilities" which rely on government investment.

Opal - Open-Pool Australian Lightwater Reactor - in Sydney is described in the document as a multi-purpose reactor, which provides user access to neutron beam instruments and specialised irradiation facilities. The 20 MW reactor, which started up in 2006, is expected to produce enough of the radioisotope molybdenum-99 capacity to supply 25% of global demand for nuclear medicine by the end of 2017. The next phase for neutron scattering facilities at the reactor would be the development of the second beam hall, the roadmap notes.

The Australian Synchrotron, in Melbourne, is a powerful electron accelerator which complements Opal. Since beginning operations in 2007, it has been used across a number of areas including: health, materials, minerals, manufacturing, food security, the environment, national security and energy.

The Australian Department of Education and Training is seeking stakeholder feedback on the draft document ahead of the submission of the final version to the government in February. Comments must be submitted by 16 January.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News