ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
A RUSSIAN delegation is expected in the country next week to conduct feasibility studies for the construction of a US$300 million industrial
and scientific research reactor.
The reactor, also called non-power reactor, will be used for electricity production, development, education and training and for the production of radioisotopes for medicine and industry, among others.
National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research head of nuclear energy application Reuben Katebe said once the construction of the plant starts, it will take five years to be completed.
In an interview recently, Mr Katebe said about 18 Zambians have been sent for training in nuclear science and technology in Russian.
“Our aim is to introduce the country to nuclear technology and, ultimately, to have a nuclear plant to generate electricity from nuclear reaction but the first stage is to build human capacity in nuclear energy,” he said.
Mr Katebe said the research reactor will be operated by local people for peaceful purposes.
He said the equipment that will be installed will also help Zambia conduct periodical maintenance of Indeni Oil Refinery without shutting the plant.
“In the industrial application, we are going to use the research reactor as a tracer to optimise the [various technologies] processes. We will use the tracers as scanners, for example, to look at a distillation of fuel at Indeni.
“The current method at Indeni is that they shut down the plant to allow a person to go inside to find out which tray has collapsed and that takes a lot of time. But with this technology, it will just take a day to scan the whole column and identify where the problem is,” he said.