Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Atomic tests for Brazil

The Brazilian Navy uses a Norwegian reactor in the development of nuclear fuel for its submarines. Halden reactor gave Brazil uranium to "avoid bureaucracy".


Disclosure. It is the renowned Brazilian newspaper O Estado de São Paulo as in a longer report from Halden, Østfold, 12. May first talked about the new agreement.

The Institute of Energy Technology (IFE) says that the collaboration between Brazil and the research reactor in Halden is about "radiation tests", which are necessary in the development of the reactors that will propel the nuclear-powered submarines.

  • This was exciting, said Commander André Luis Ferreira Marques, of the Brazilian Navy's nuclear program (PNM), to the newspaper Estado de São Paulo after a very successful nuclear test on March 10.

The first Brazilian nuclear-powered submarine will be ready in 2023, and a large Brazilian delegation has been following the tests in Norway for the past six months. According to O Estado de São Paulo, the election fell on Halden, because Brazil does not have a suitable research reactor.

Ny Tid receives confirmation of the nuclear project from the director of the Halden reactor:

  • It is true that IFE in Halden has a contract with the Brazilian Navy Technology Center (CTMSP), which consists of conducting three radiation tests in the Halden reactor. IFE Halden is widely known in the nuclear world as the leading institute for performing radiation services, and we have conducted more than 600 radiation tests for organizations around the world. This is an important financial basis for IFE Halden, says research director Fridtjov Øwre to Ny Tid.

Gave uranium to Brazil

Another important factor was "the Norwegian government's attitude to the Brazilian navy's nuclear program, which is defined as" for peaceful purposes only ". But according to the newspaper Estado de São Paulo, the Norwegian authorities showed even greater goodwill:

To conduct the tests, the Institute of Energy Technology in Halden provided uranium pellets to the Brazilian Navy. Admittedly, it was no more than 20,2 grams. Brazil already has large stocks of uranium, but it has to approved by Congress if this is to be taken out of the country. And because of bad times and a lot of bureaucracy, it was decided that Norway should get the controversial uranium to use, writes the newspaper.

CONVERSION: It is a submarine of this type, a Scorpene-class diesel fuel, which will now be converted to a nuclear-powered submarine in Brazil, with the help of the Norwegian heavy water reactor in Halden. Here at a yard in Cherbourg, France. PHOTO: WIKICOMMONS

  • The Department of Energy Technology has continuous uranium dioxide powder in stock. From this store, IFE produces uranium pellets for use in ordinary operation of its own reactors and for use in various types of experiments. In this project, IFE produced fuel according to specifications from the Brazilian Navy's technology center. IFE used uranium dioxide powder purchased in the usual way by IFE, says Øwre.

The director confirms that IFE offered to produce the necessary uranium dioxide pellets in Norway to keep costs down, save time and exclude the need for transport of nuclear fuel from Brazil to Norway.

Nuclear powered submarines

It was in 2007 that the Brazilian authorities decided to develop a separate program for nuclear-powered submarines in the Navy. The submarines will primarily be used to defend the country's extensive oil and gas resources, which the Navy calls the "Blue Amazon".

By 2047, Brazil's navy is scheduled to have six such submarines at its disposal. These will be built in Brazil, but with the help of French technology and assistance. A total of seven other countries have nuclear-powered submarines. According to Øwre, the contract with the Brazilians states that all nuclear-related activities in Brazil have purely peaceful purposes and the project has no connection whatsoever to the development of weapons of mass destruction.

Paulo Guimarães, embassy council at the Brazilian embassy in Oslo, defines defense as a field where there is great potential for closer cooperation between Norway and Brazil.

  • Norway has technology, and offshore surveillance, for example, is something that the Brazilian authorities have begun to give higher priority to. The Brazilian Ministry of Defense has the budget to go for the acquisition of new technology, so here there are opportunities, says Guimarães to Ny Tid.

The tests are "successful"

According to IFE, the Brazilian Navy is working on developing a nuclear propulsion reactor, and the Navy needs data from radiation tests in a research reactor to get its fuel materials approved by the security authorities. The tests in Halden are described in the Brazilian press as very successful. They showed that the nuclear submarine with this fuel will be able to dive to 350 meters below sea level, at a speed of 50 km / h, according to Commander Marques.

The nuclear reactor in Halden was built in the period 1955 to 1958 by the then Department of Atomic Energy (now the Department of Energy Technology, IFE) inside Månefjellet. The heavy water reactor in Halden was built as an experimental reactor. It produces steam and is a heavily water-cooled boiling reactor, has been occasionally disputed in recent years. The Halden reactor is one of two nuclear reactors in Norway, the other is at Kjeller – both are subject to the Department of Energy Technology. ■

(This is an excerpt from Ny Tid 24.05.2013. Asubscribers to New Time -click here.)

You may also like