Publication date: 
On Tuesday June 6th, 2023, the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague launched the second training fission nuclear reactor VR-2, and the tenth nuclear reactor currently in operation in the Czech Republic. In addition to these two training reactors, the Research Centre in Řež operates two research reactors, and six nuclear reactors are in operation at two ČEZ nuclear power plants. The Faculty is launching VR-2 exactly a year after it made public that its construction had been authorized by the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB). The new reactor is situated in the same reactor hall as VR-1 operated by the Faculty since 1990.

"We can say that a nuclear renaissance is dawning in the world because more and more people are becoming aware that without nuclear energy mankind cannot generate enough clean energy, and, this also implies that we need qualified experts. It is their training and education the VR-2 will serve before all," says Rector of the CTU, Associate Professor Vojtěch Petráček. CTU thus becomes the only university worldwide operating not only two fission reactors, i.e. VR-1 and VR-2, but also a fusion reactor - the Golem tokamak.

"With the new VR-2 fission reactor teaching and research activities will be easier to schedule, because with the VR-1 we have been facing capacity limits. VR-1 serves not only students from our home Faculty but also students from other faculties at CTU and other universities; it is open to train foreign students and even staff from industry," explains the Dean of FNSPE, Associate Professor Václav Čuba. In cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) VR-1 was equipped with the Internet Reactor Laboratory System, so on-line teaching and training has been possible and is made use of by students from abroad, e.g. the USA, Great Britain, and Tunisia, and other.

"Launching VR-2 proves to be the climax of the process we started in 2014. The very construction was very quick and took approximately one year due to the small size of the facility, which cannot even compare with the VR-1. And yet, it is still a nuclear facility subject to various regulations that must be complied with, " adds the Head of the Department of Nuclear Reactors, Jan Rataj.

Schedule for the preparation of the VR-2 reactor at FJFI

  • 2014                                   project initiation
  • 2018                                    fuel transport
  • 2020                                    siting licence
  • 2022                                    construction licence and construction
  • 6th June 2023               commencement of operation

A subcritical reactor cannot do without a neutron source

The VR-2 reactor is of the subcritical type, and so without an external source of neutrons it cannot sustain a fission chain reaction. If the external supply of neutrons is disconnected, fission stops. Therefore, the reactor operation is easier, safer, and its design parameters significantly less demanding.

The fuel for VR-2 was donated in 2018 by the Aalto University of Finland (see the Press Release of that time). Its construction was facilitated by situating the VR-2 reactor in the same reactor hall as the VR-1, the hall as such already complying with the placement regulations for VR-1 and still offering enough space for both.

Like VR-1, even the VR-2 reactor will serve both training and research and will be utilized for research projects.

More information on FNSPE reactors and scientific activities is available on the web of the Department of Nuclear Reactors.

History of nuclear research in the Czech Republic (in the context of the main events in the world)

1942    first nuclear reactor in Chicago, (USA)
1945    first reactors in Canada and the Soviet Union
1954    first nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union (Obninsk)
1955    intergovernmental agreement on nuclear research between Czechoslovakia and the former Soviet Union
Establishment of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Prague
Start of teaching at the Faculty of Technical and Nuclear Physics of Charles University (now the Faculty of Nuclear and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague)
1957    establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
The first nuclear reactor in Czechoslovakia begins operation: the LVR-15 in Řež
1972    start of operation of the second reactor in Řež - LR-0
1972    start of construction of the Slovak nuclear power plant Jaslovské Bohunice V1 with two VVER-440 reactors
1985    commissioning of the first unit of the Dukovany NPP (the other three units were commissioned in 1986-7)
1990    start of operation of the school fission reactor VR-1 at FNSPE
2000    commissioning of the first unit of Temelin NPP (the second unit was commissioned in 2002)
2022    start of construction of the second school nuclear reactor VR-2 at FNSPE
2023    start of operation of the 10th fission nuclear reactor in the Czech Republic