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26 March 2024, 19:15

Belarus eyeing research opportunities Russian fast-neutron reactor offers

Photo courtesy of SSC RIAR
Photo courtesy of SSC RIAR
SOCHI, 26 March (BelTA) – Belarus intends to carry out a number of research projects with the help of a Russian fast-neutron reactor, BelTA learned from Academic Secretary of the Department of Physical and Technical Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Sergei Shcherbakov on the sidelines of the international forum Atomexpo in Sochi.

An agreement on cooperation between the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, OOO Rusatom Bel, and OOO Consortium Leader of MBIR Reactor International Research Center was signed on the sidelines of the Atomexpo forum in Sochi on 25 March. The multipurpose fast research reactor MBIR is a new mega science installation, which is being built in Russia. An international research center to leverage the installation’s capabilities has been created.

“This installation will allow examining various systems that are difficult to probe with conventional solutions. This project will be of practical importance for the Belarusian side. I mean, in addition to studying the structure of matter at different levels starting with the atomic one, we will study something that will actually be used in our economy. For example, a pre-production model of our electric car has been presented earlier. It is important that the heart of this electric vehicle, all the components are of Belarusian make: the motor, the inverter, the battery, and the control system. These parts account for more than 70% of the total vehicle volume. Both standard mechanical tests and research on a new level are very important for this electric vehicle. To make the car work longer, we need to study all the interfaces, friction and so on. We need new technologies. In this case the fast research reactor will be used like a super microscope,” Sergei Shcherbakov said.

Apart from that, Belarusian scientists propose a new type of battery for the electric car. Instead of the usual lithium-ion battery it will have a sodium-graphene one. “It is complicated because there is now an entire industry that makes lithium-ion batteries. But what do we do with the batteries that are no longer usable? Disposing of them is a big problem. To stop using them, we turn towards sodium and graphene. We already have prototypes. Very complex physical and chemical processes take place inside the cells. It is either difficult or too long and expensive to study them using conventional methods. This is why research with the help of a mega science installation is important for us,” the scientist explained.

The third avenue of cooperation is special steels, which are being developed by the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and which should be studied at different levels - macro, micro, and nano. “These are the areas where we would like to cooperate with Rosatom. Although they are non-energy ones,” Sergei Shcherbakov added.

But cooperation on energy matters also continues. “We are discussing the possible construction of a second nuclear power plant or additional units of the nuclear power plant. It is a complicated matter, but of great current interest. The construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant has resolved the country’s energy security problem. We now have to decide what we should do next,” the scientist pointed out.

The international forum Atomexpo is a major exhibition and business venue where the current state of the atomic industry is discussed and trends of the industry’s future development take shape. Taking part in the forum are heads of key companies of the world atomic industry, government agencies, international and public organizations, leading experts. A Belarusian delegation is also taking part in the forum.

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