Tomsk Polytechnic University won a competition of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education to upgrade its unique research facilities. According to the website Future of Russia. National Projects with a reference to the ministry press office, up to 87.5 million rubles will be allocated to fund the TPU research reactor for two years.
A unique scientific facility (USF) is a cluster of scientific equipment, unrivalled in Russia. The unit is being built by research or educational organization to obtain results, impossible to achieve without using proper equipment. According to the organizers, applications ranked top-8 won the grants.
According to Artem Naimushin, Director of the Research Nuclear Reactor Center, the funding will be used to upgrade the research complex and expand its performance capabilities through a unique set of user stations. They will include experimental automated complex for doping semiconductor materials, a multifunctional complex of target samples irradiation by extracted neutron beams, device for generating coherent gamma radiation, installation for studying the interaction of nuclear materials and chemically active gases, a digital spectrometric positron spectroscopy installation, an installation for producing technical and medical isotopes, and a unit to create radiopharmaceuticals.
The following activities will allow us to obtain scientific results and create world-class technologies in the field of cryogenic materials science, neutron capture radiation therapy, neutron activation analysis, synthesis of radiopharmaceuticals and technological isotopes, development of a component electronic base for the digital economy, and development of materials of transport and energy modules based on nuclear power plants, and others.
The complex will both draw the attention of talented scientists and will be a driver for regional economy through innovative projects in the markets of non-energy application of nuclear and radiation technologies”,
— Artem Naimushin says.
Nowadays, the TPU reactor is the only active university nuclear reactor in Russia. It was installed in 1967 and has been upgraded many times since then. Over the past 10 years, more than 650 million rubles have been provided to update its scientific and technological equipment. The last large-scale modernization at the reactor took place from 2014 to 2016. It allowed extending the life of the installation until 2035.
The TPU Reactor is a unique educational platform, where 430 students undergo training every year. They acquire practical skills in nuclear power plant management, physical protection for nuclear facilities, and nuclear and radiation safety. Moreover, unlike other Russian reactors, the TPU Reactor grants access to international students.
They are training to work at nuclear facilities in their countries. Since 2015, students from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, India, China, Tanzania, Brazil, Zambia, Iran, and Vietnam have been trained here. They studied nuclear installation management. This fall, TPU will begin to train international specialists in nuclear medicine, practical training they will conduct at the reactor as well.
The reactor is used to conduct promising research in the field of environmental management and materials science. Nuclear medicine is one of the most important research areas. TPU is one of the leading Russian centers for the development and production of radiopharmaceuticals as medicines containing radioisotopes. The reactor researchers produce a diagnostic isotope of technetium-99m. Besides, it is the only installation in Russia, producing scarce radioactive phosphorus-32.
Among the competition winners, there are eight Russian research institutes and universities, such as the Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (Russian Academy of Science), the Institute of Applied Physics Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), V.E. Zuev Institute of Atmospheric Optics (SB RAS), the Irkutsk State University with a project for the development of an astrophysical complex, Lomonosov Moscow State University, the National Research Center Kurchatov Institute, and the Special Astrophysical Observatory (RAS).