Heavy-Water Reactor

Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.
Related to Heavy-Water Reactor: Fast breeder reactor, CANDU reactor

heavy-water reactor

[′hev·ē ¦wȯd·ər rē′ak·tər]
A nuclear reactor in which heavy water serves as moderator and sometimes also as coolant.

Heavy-Water Reactor


a thermal reactor in which heavy water (D20) serves as the moderator. Because heavy water has a small neutron capture cross section, a heavy-water reactor may contain an extremely large fraction of fuel in the process of being generated as the original fuel is burned; the ratio of the weight of newly produced fuel to that of the burned fuel may be as high as 0.9. Ordinary water, heavy water, and certain gases, for example, steam and carbon dioxide, are used as coolants in heavy-water reactors.

Table 4. Production of diesel engines in the USSR1
1 Excluding motor-vehicle and tractor engines
General-purpose diesels:    
units. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12,14054,32259,62765,235
total horsepower. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .469,9008,830,70016,158,00018,230,600

Construction and operating costs of heavy-water reactors are high because of the price of heavy water. The reactors are therefore used in industry only in countries where heavy water can be produced relatively cheaply, such as in Canada, where the electric power supplied by the country’s hydroelectric power plants costs very little.

References in periodicals archive ?
A diplomat familiar with the negotiations said China was ready to help in modifying the heavy-water reactor at Arak, France in reprocessing nuclear waste and Britain in the field of nuclear safety and security.
They certainly don't need a heavy-water reactor at Arak in order to have a peaceful nuclear programme.
Moreover, the Arak heavy-water reactor posed a significantly more troubling dilemma, since it was nearly ready to produce plutonium with its spent fuel.
Israel's last chief of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, who piloted one of the F-16As that cratered Iraq's Osirak heavy-water reactor in 1981 before it was due to become operational, said: "Whoever considers attacking an active reactor is willing to invite another Chernobyl, and no one wants to do that.
The US and its allies have expressed concerns Iran could reprocess spent fuel from the heavy-water reactor into plutonium for building a nuclear warhead.
Aghazadeh said Iran has also made "good progress" in constructing a 40 Megawatt heavy-water reactor near Arak in central Iran.
15 said their case was under review by officials in the region of Arak, a town about 190 km south-west of Tehran where Iran is building a heavy-water reactor.
UN nuclear inspectors who were banned earlier this year by Iran from visiting a heavy-water reactor will now be allowed to inspect it before the end of July, says the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London estimated that it would take a year for the heavy-water reactor to produce enough plutonium for a single "simple implosion weapon" once it was up and running.
But the spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor can be reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in a bomb.
Iran says it is scaling down plutonium production plans at the nation's partially constructed heavy-water reactor, an announcement seen as a gesture toward negotiations with world powers over Iran's controversial nuclear program.
On Arak heavy-water reactor, Salehi said the P5+1 group approved an Iranian suggestion to redesign the reactor "and the issue is almost finalized.