An idea to build a nuclear research reactor in Tomsk Polytechnic Institute – TPI (since 1991 - Tomsk Polytechnic University) was put forward by its Rector, Professor Alexander A. Vorobyov. The 1950s was a golden time of nuclear sciences, nuclear physics, nuclear energy, and others. This led to an increase in the number of nuclear power plants and other organizations of the atomic industry. TPI became a training center for specialists in nuclear physics, separation of isotopes, automation of technological processes, plasma physics, plasma chemistry, and chemical technology, and nuclear energy. By this time, TPI founded Research Institute of Nuclear Physics, Electronics, and Automation based on synchrotron Sirius, cyclotron and, other accelerators. This institute allowed accumulating the experience of scientific research, strengthened the ties of science with academic process, training scientific and engineering staff for the nuclear industry.
It is worth noting, that the project of TPI nuclear research reactor was supported by the "father of the Soviet atomic bomb" and the Soviet nuclear program - Igor V. Kurchatov.
The construction of the reactor ИРТ-1000 (Typical Research Reactor-1000 or IRT-1000) began in 1959. The first chief engineer of the project was Nikolai P. Larionov, February 15, 1963, Alexander G. Skorikov replaced him in this position. On June 22, 1967, the reactor was launched for the first time by a group of specialists from the Kurchatov Institute headed by Pavel M. Egorenkov.
IRT-1000 was a heterogeneous reactor operated on thermal neutrons. Demineralized water was used as the reflector, the coolant, and the top biological shielding, the reflector material was graphite. Initially, the active zone of the reactor was loaded with IRT-1000 fuel assembly arrays with 10% enrichment of U235. In 1971, the reactor core was reconstructed one began to use fuel assembly arrays TRR-2M the graphite reflector was replaced by beryllium and the reactor power was increased up to 2.5 MW.
At the reactor power 2.5 MW, the thermal neutron flux in the core center was 3,3х1013 н/см2с. The reactor had eight horizontal channels 100 mm in diameter each and two 150 mm diameter each, 12 vertical channels with a diameter of 52 mm, and three with a diameter of 32 mm.
The present construction allowed simultaneously working on different experiments independently. The radiation circuit with a liquid-metal alloy allowed engineers to obtain pure monochromatic gamma radiation of high intensity.
After ten years from the first launch, in 1997 the reactor was temporary shutdown for reconstruction due to progressive corrosion of the reactor tank aluminum shell. This was caused by a number of issues: firstly, an error made during installation of directional paths for an activity generator of the radiation circuit. The water of the primary circuit fell into the space between the tank wall and the concrete biological protection. Secondly, the anticorrosive treatment was insufficient.
Soon after, a new plan of reconstruction was approved. The reactor received a new reactor tank from stainless steel, totally new equipment for the first and second cooling circuits. In addition, reactor control and safety system, instrumentation system, and radiation control began to meet the most stringent requirements of the time. The equipment of the first and second circuits was installed in newly constructed premises. May 1984, the reactor ИРТ-Т (Typical Research Reactor-Tomsk or IRT-T) was prepared for a testing-launch. June 11, 1984, the first criticality of the upgraded reactor was carried out. A large group of brilliant Soviet scientists led by the President of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Anatoly P. Alexandrov participated in this important event. December 1984, TPU conduced the reactor power startup. Throughout the next 30-year period, one carried out a large amount of work in upgrading of management and control systems of technological parameters of IRT-T reactor. 2005, TPU installed and began to use reactor control and safety system, as well as control of technological parameters of the reactor IRT-T based on security modules MIRAGE MB (МИРАЖ МБ - safety model).
2014, we installed a radiation monitoring system based on the piece of equipment Doza (Доза).
Nowadays, the Nuclear Research Reactor of Tomsk Polytechnic University is the one and only research university reactor in Russia. Thus, it is actively used in a huge number of experiments, tests, and research projects of both industrial and research partners. Due to solid experience and qualified research and engineering staff, the reactor is a reliable partner, able to carried out complex fundamental and applied projects.