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The Nuclear Research Center (NRC), one of four research centers under the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA), is the oldest and the biggest research institute in the AEA. Its activities are directed towards the basic nuclear sciences, the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, the reactors and the applications of radioisotopes in medicine, industry, and agriculture. The center houses research and service facilities, including:
The precise location of this facility is uncertain, which is rather peculiar, given that it is a publicly acknowledged and well attested installation. It is reportedly located at Inshas [Inchass / Inchas] which is said to be 60 km northeast of Cairo [which is at 30°03'N 31°15'E]. This distance and direction would place the facility at roughly 30°30'N 31°30'E [according to the Great Circle Calculator]. According to NIMA's GEOnet Names Server the "Inshas" railway station is located at 30°23'00"N 31°27'00"E, and the "Inchas" or "Inshas ar Raml" wadi [a "wadi" is a canyon or desert valley] is located at 30°23'04"N 31°27'34"E. However, this location is only about 40 kilometers from the center of Cairo. The NRC Nuclear Fuel Laboratory is located at 30°15'N 31°25'E, according to the IAEA. However, it is evident from TerraServer imagery that these coordinates are incorrect, since there is only empty desert at this location.The ET-RR-1 Reactor is an operational scientific-research reactor with a capacity of 2 megawatts, launched in 1961 with Soviet technical assistance. An agreement was signed with India in 1991 to increase the capacity of this reactor to 5 megawatts. The 30 years of operation of the reactor have enabled Egypt to acquire its own scientific base and fairly skilled cadres. Egypt’s second research reactor, Egyptian Second Research Reactor (ETRR-2), also known as the Multipurpose Nuclear Reactor, is an open pool type reactor, with 22 MW power, cooled and moderated by light water and reflected by beryllium. The Inchass reactor has a capacity 11 times that of the Russian-built research reactor established in 1961.
The Argentinian company Investigacion Aplicada (INVAP) won the tender from the Egyptian Electricity and Energy Ministry in 1990 to construct the reactor, and in September 1992 the contract was signed. To manage the project, INVAP established a branch office in Nasr City. The project was worth an estimated US$100 million to Invap and was an important international contract for Argentina. Construction of the multipurpose reactor began in 1993 and was carried out jointly by Argentina and Egypt. In November 1997 ETRR-2 achieved initial criticality, and President Mubarak and Argentine President Carlos Meneim inaugurated the reactor in February 1998.
The reactor building has a four-level design: basement, ground floor, first floor and second floor. The reactor hall is located on the second floor. The hall has the required height to operate the elements contained within the reactor pool. The building has three areas: reactor hall, restricted area and non restricted area. These three areas have been defined according to their radioactive contamination risks. They each have independent ventilation and circulation systems. The building is seismically qualified and features a massive block built in heavy concrete containing the reactor and auxiliary pools.
The reactor is used for the production of radioisotopes for medical, agricultural and industrial purposes, basic and applied physics and engineering research and training. Its main features are high neutron flux, easy operation, enhanced reliability and safety in accordance with international standards. The ETTR-2 average thermal flux is 1.4 x 1014 cm-2sec-1 and the maximum thermal flux is 2.8 x 1014 cm-2sec-1. The core is configured in a 5x6 grid surrounded by a Zircaloy chimney, 10 meters below the pool surface. The core is cooled by demineralized water in a forced upwards flow. After shutdwon, the decay power is removed by natural circulation of the reactor pool water. Irradiation boxes are used for radioisotope production. Boxes are either inserted in the core or positioned within the reflector. Manipulation and distribution of irradiated items is carried out within the hot cells located at the top of the reactor pool. Additional labs and hot cells are also contemplated to study and manipulate irradiated materials. A large working facility for neutron-beam experimentation is located around the block of the reactor. There is an auxiliary pool for spent-fuel storage and for storing irradiated samples. A transference gate connects the reactor pool to the auxiliary pool.
The Fuel Manufacturing Pilot Plant [FMPP] is to supply the MPR with the necessary nuclear fuel elements for its operation. The ETRR-2 uses MTR plate type (19.75 % uranium enriched) fuel elements. These are fabricated at the Fuel Element Pilot Plant, which was designed and constructed by INVAP under contract with AEA beginning on 01 March 1996, with preliminary acceptance on 09 May 1998. The plant's capacity is reportedly either 24 or 40 Fuel Elements per year, which is sufficient for the continuous operation of the reactor. The main process performed in the plant include manufacturing of U3O8 powder, structural components, fuel plates, fuel assembly and quality control tasks. The starting material is uranium hexa-fluoride (UF6) gas, 19.75% enrichment. This is conveted into U3O8 through treatment with ammonia and water in special chemical reactors. This is followed by filteration and thermal treatment to get the appropriate particle size of U3O8 The oxide powder is mixed with aluminium powder and cold-pressed under 4.5 tons/cm2 into compacts, which are then cladded with sheets of aluminium 6061 alloy, and sealed by welding all around. All processes are carried out in glove boxes, using the most advanced technologies, to gurantee keeping the environment absolutely free from radioactive pollution. The cladded fuel compacts are rolled, in four stages, into plates 1.5mm thickness. Each rolling pass is followed by a thermal annealing process. The plates are then straightened and assembled into fuel elements, each element comprising 19 plates and contains about 2 kg of uranium. The plant is equipped with the most advanced and specialized equipment used in nuclear technology, and a workshop capable to produce all mechanical parts of the fuel element, The plant also includes laboratories for characterization, inspection and quality control according to nuclear standards.
The other facility at Inshas is the Hot Laboratory and Waste Management Center (HLWMC), which includes a small French-supplied hot cell complex for plutonium extraction research. The Hot Laboratory and Waste Management Center was established in 1980. The center aims at the development of expertise in the fields of the back and of the fuel cycle, radwaste treatment as well as radioisotope production for various medical and industrial applications. Major research and service facilities in the center include the low and Intermediate Level Liquid Waste Station, the Radioisotope Production Laboratories, and the Radwaste Disposal Site.