Rosatom delegation visited JINR: “A lot of interesting work is ahead”

News, 24 September 2020

On 22 – 23 September 2020, Representatives of the State Corporation “Rosatom” Yu. A. Olenin, Deputy Director General for Science and Strategy, V. I. Ilgisonis, Director for Scientific and Technical Research and Development, as well as representatives of JSC “Nauka i innovatsii” A. V. Dub, First Deputy Director General, and R. A. Afanasiev, Managing Director, visited JINR.

The representatives of the State Corporation “Rosatom” and JSC “Nauka i innovatsii” had meetings with representatives of the JINR Directorate and leaders of the laboratories, as well as got acquainted with the scientific infrastructure of the Joint Institute. The delegation visited the Laboratory of Neutron Physics where was welcomed by FLNP Director V. N. Shvetsov and his colleagues. The guests visited the IBR-2 research reactor and learnt about the research fields of the Laboratory. In the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, the delegation accompanied by JINR Vice-Director S. N. Dmitriev and FLNR Director S. V. Sidorchuk was acquainted with the Superheavy Element Factory and the Laboratory’s research in the fields of the synthesis of superheavy elements. The excursion to the Laboratory of High Energy Physics was conducted by VBLHEP Director, Leader of the NICA mega-science project V. D. Kekelidze. The guests learnt about the implementation of the complex of superconducting rings at colliding heavy-ion beams NICA, visited the construction site of the project, as well as the factory of superconducting magnets.

At the end of the visit, the delegation had a meeting with representatives of the JINR Directorate at which the guests were welcomed by JINR Director Academician V. A. Matveev. The Institute’s party was also represented by First Vice-Director G. V. Trubnikov, Vice-Directors S. N. Dmitriev, V. D. Kekelidze and B. Yu. Sharkov, Adviser to Director G. A. Kozlov and FLNR Scientific Leader Yu. Ts. Oganessian.

At the meeting, the parties noted the value of general history, current successful cooperation and wide opportunities for its development, and confirmed mutual readiness to extend the existing cooperation. V. A. Matveev noted the importance of the JINR-Rosatom agreement signed in December 2019 and highlighted that numerous ideas and issues of the long-term programme of the Institute’s development can be implemented only in cooperation with Rosatom. G. V. Trubnikov paid attention of the participants of the meeting to the special importance of establishing direct working interaction for effective implementation of partner projects. The parties agreed that one of the first practical steps would be the approval of the membership of joint JINR-Rosatom working subgroups for each cooperation field. Yu. A. Olenin said that the Rosatom’s representatives were deeply impressed by the idea, the quality and the implementation level of the NICA mega-science project. The guests from Rosatom highlighted the JINR experience in the fields of passing international expertise of project documentation, as well as the Institute’s opportunities in the fields of science organization for current and future projects of Rosatom on neutron physics, as the issues of their special interest.

We asked JINR Vice-Director Academician B. Yu. Sharkov to tell about the milestones of the delegation’s visit.

“Last year, there was a joint meeting of the Presidium of the Science and Technology Council of the State Corporation “Rosatom” and the extended JINR Directorate. A cooperation agreement was signed, and reports on five major areas for the Rosatom-JINR scientific cooperation were made: the NICA project, a new neutron source IBR-3, the production of isotopes for the Superheavy Element Factory, nuclear medicine, and nuclear waste disposal and processing. One of the milestones of this meeting was the decision to create a joint Coordination Council for cooperation, which should meet at least once a year. On behalf of JINR, key figures of the Institute for each area will join the Council. In addition to the proposal for the membership of the Coordination Council, we sent a proposal to Rosatom on holding the first meeting to discuss the progress of joint work, as well as to establish working subgroups for each cooperation area so that they can meet not once a year but more often so that to resolve some working issues quickly. This visit is a step towards solving these tasks, and it is very important as far as it reflects the Rosatom’s interest in the cooperation with JINR. During this visit, the delegation was headed by Deputy Director General of Rosatom Yuri Alexandrovich Olenin, a person responsible for the scientific field of the State Corporation and the development of strategies for the entire nuclear industry in the Russian Federation. He was accompanied by two managers responsible for science and high technology at the State Corporation “Rosatom”. It evidences serious interest as far as JINR is considered as a promising partner in a number of fields important to Rosatom.

During this visit, Yu. A. Olenin has noted several times that the JINR experience in the organization of international cooperation and policy of collective use of large-scale research infrastructure is very important to Rosatom. According to Yu. A. Olenin, he was deeply impressed by the visit to IBR-2: by the way work at it is organized, by the way the time at neutron beams is distributed, by the way the international committee selects projects. Rosatom has built a large number of reactors but the organization of the user policy for conducting research is a separate task for the State Corporation. Moreover, the delegation paid attention to the development of our new IBR-3 reactor and the Institute’s activities in the fields of fast reactors. The interest was really strong, the guests asked numerous questions, and practical steps were immediately taken: we agreed to launch the joint subgroup for reactor theme, neutron physics and condensed matter physics in the nearest future.

Out Superheavy Element Factory, the production of isotopes for experiments on the synthesis of superheavy elements also evoked vivid interest among the Rosatom’s representatives who noted the high quality of the new DC-280 cyclotron. A subgroup on this theme will also be launched soon.

Yu. A. Olenin highlighted for several times during the visit how deeply he was impressed by the visit to the NICA complex being constructed: by the quality, the pace of the construction and the way the project’s implementation is organized. The established system of international expertise of the NICA project has become the object of special attention as far as the vast JINR experience in the issue is unique in the Russian Federation, and Rosatom is going to bring a number of its research reactors to the international level. And in this regard our experience is invaluable. Furthermore, it is planned to extract the beam at NICA for applied research, and this is another one prospect for our cooperation.

One more important cooperation field is the removal of spent nuclear fuel from our reactor. Rosatom is the key state organization in this issue that is responsible for the removal, disposal and treatment of this waste in accordance with all the standards. In this regard, it is of crucial importance that due to the legislation, the financial issue of this expensive task is regulated in the frames of the federal budget. This topic was discussed at this meeting, we have obtained the confirmation from our partners from Rosatom, and a working group will work on it.

By the way, this visit has shown us that the horizons of our cooperation are much broader than the five areas outlined in the Agreement. In particular, this applies to the promising research reactor MBIR being constructed by Rosatom in Dimitrovgrad. It is a fourth-generation reactor at fast neutrons being specifically designed for scientific and technological studies. The launch of the reactor is scheduled for 2030, and Rosatom already starts organization of science around MBIR. In this regard, with our extensive experience, we have received an exciting proposal from Rosatom to take part in the organization of the user policy, research, coordination of the scientific life around the reactor.

As a result of the visit, we are drafting a joint protocol according to which we are going to start working meetings of subgroups shortly: we have a lot of interesting work ahead. One of the issues of the protocol concerns the Coordination Council we have discussed. Thus, the Council should meet once a year, and the last meeting took place in Moscow. We would like to offer to hold the next meeting with leaders of Rosatom planned for this year here, in Dubna. And there are grounds to believe that this proposal will be accepted with enthusiasm as far as the Rosatom’s delegation, which has visited us, has acquired a great load of new interesting information that has allowed the guests to see in JINR a serious, competent and promising partner.

Article by Kristina Moisenz
Photos by Igor Lapenko