Test and Research Reactor to be Built at Monju Site

The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has formulated a plan to build a small-scale test and research reactor at the site of the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, where decommissioning work is currently underway, according to news sources.

The new facility will use neutron beams and other energy, which is different from the fast reactor system. The output power of the reactor will be less than 10,000 kilowatts, which is about the same size as that of the Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Radiation and Nuclear Science. It will not generate electricity.

Since many of the research reactors in Japan are aging, the government hopes the new facility will serve as a training and education center for new talents, as well as a center of excellence, not only for future nuclear energy research and development but also for applied research in fields other than energy such as medical, life and material sciences.

The construction cost is estimated to be about 50 billion yen, and the government plans to start detailed design work in fiscal year 2022. The new facility will be jointly operated by the current Monju operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), universities and others.

After the government decided to decommission the Monju reactor in December 2016, MEXT has been carrying out studies on the construction of a test and research reactor at the Monju site in response to requests from the local community and others.