Conversion of the Ghana nuclear reactor

Conversion of the Ghana nuclear reactor

The Chinese Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE, also known as Institute 401) completed the conversion of the Ghana nuclear reactor, previously a highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactor, into a low enriched uranium (LEU) reactor.

At a ceremony celebrating the completion of work Thursday in the capital Accra, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Sun Baohong, observed that this project opened a new door to bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

In response to the United States’ Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supported the conversion of Ghana’s HEU plant, which was established in 1994 .

“This is a new success in our 25-year bilateral cooperation,” said Sun, inspecting the facility.

Observing that Ghana was ahead of many other African countries in nuclear energy, he said that the program was important for the global non-proliferation effort and for the development of the Sino-Ghanaian cooperation in science and technology, and that it was also important for the future of Ghana’s progress in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

China was chosen by the IAEA to carry out this 20 million USD conversion project because the original UHE reactor was Chinese-made. The process consisted of replacing the core of the reactor, using a 90.2% enriched uranium, with an equivalent using an enrichment of less than 20%.

“We cooperated very closely with China on the technical aspect and on the financial support for the whole project. We are grateful that the conversion is finished now, and today we are going to start (…) The whole process of implementing this technology, “said in a brief comment the chairman of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) Governing Council, Kweku Aning (IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation).

Among the Chinese institutions that have cooperated with the GAEC over the years are the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation (CNCC), the Chinese Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), the China Energy Institute (CIAE) and the Chinese Atomic Energy Commission (CAEC).

“Our cooperation with China in the nuclear field has been very beneficial, particularly for research, training and support for industry, nuclear safety and other issues, which is why they helped to shift from highly enriched Uranium (HEU) to low-enriched Uranium (LEU)”Anning added.

He expressed the hope that the GAEC and Chinese institutions would continue to work together to realize Ghana’s dream of becoming a nuclear power.

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Arnaud Lefevre

Arnaud Lefevre is the Chief Executive Officer of Dynatom International. Arnaud is in charge of the international development of the business portfolio.