New hot cells in Řež meet new demands for material research of irradiated materials

Research Centre Řež has opened operation in new hot cells dedicated to full set of testing of material mechanical properties and to material research. The innovative design fulfills all legal requirements and was granted by the State Office for Nuclear Safety with the permission to operate. The facility built under the Sustainable Energy (SUSEN) project opens new opportunities for the Czech and international nuclear community for development of new nuclear technologies and materials.

Hot cells are specialized containment chambers for safe manipulation with radionuclide emitters. They are designed to provide required protection of the personnel; the shielding protects the nearby area from the effects of ionizing radiation and the hermetic part forms an impenetrable barrier against radioactive dust and aerosols.

The hot cells complex built in the Research Centre Řež contains 10 individual hot cells interconnected by the transportation system, and shielded by the fixed steel shielding made from steel blocks with a maximum thickness of 500 mm and equipped with shielding windows of 900 mm of total thickness. Inside the shielding blocks of each chamber there is a removable airtight cube box made of steel frame with stainless steel covered with a cover glass. The volume of each box is about 27 m3. Two types of cells are utilized, gamma cells designed for testing the fuel cladding and irradiated nuclear power plant structural materials. They are capable to accommodate up to ~ 300 TBq activity (converted to 60Co isotope). The alpha cells are designated for the R&D of radioactive waste processing. Transportation of radioactive materials between the chambers is secured by a special loading machine. The material is transported in a shielded container set enabling to transport high activities.

The unique concept of our hot cells allows easy interchangeability of the used technology in the individual chambers, thus significantly increasing the efficiency of facility and the extent of the offered types of tests,” – says Ondřej Srba, Head of Material testing department. “The main purpose of our hot cells is to bring to new level the complex material research of highly irradiated materials for the existing nuclear power plants with the emphasis on extension of their service life and for the development of power plants with advanced technologies (Generation IV, fusion), particularly emphasized to high operating temperatures.”

The hot cells equipment is designed to cover the whole experimental part of material research, from manufacturing of test samples made of irradiated materials of various shape, through mechanical tests, the preparation of metallographic samples up to the final fractography analysis.

The equipment of the hot chambers includes:

  • Electron beam welding machine (EBW),
  • Computer numerical control (CNC) machining center,
  • Electrical discharge machine (EDM),
  • Universal tensile testing machine,
  • High frequency resonance pulsator,
  • Autoclave with water loop,
  • Electromechanical creep machine,
  • Electrochemical loop,
  • Scanning electron microscope,
  • Nanoindenter with Nano Scratch Tester.

The Hot Cell Complex was built under the Sustainable Energy (SUSEN) project funded with the support of the European Union and the Government of the Czech Republic from the Operational Programs “Research and Development for Innovation” and “Research, Development and Education” managed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports .



RNDr. Ondřej Srba, PhD
Head of Material testing department
Research Centre Řež
tel.: +420 266 173 466