FiR 1 Research Reactor

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Finland's first nuclear reactor, was put in operation on March 27th 1962. Administrated by VTT (The technical reseach centre of the finnish state, which is heavily involved in nuclear development still today - it's among their top priorities in energy research; cf. their webpage) since 1972, before that by TKK (Polytechnical university of Helsinki). Does not produce electricity. Used for research and education, part of which has been instrumental in the development of the finnish nuclear industry. It is also used for isotope production, and at least in the 1970's "service analyses connected with ore prospecting have been offered to companies", which possibly indicates uranium prospecting. Since the 1980's, the reactor has also been used for medical research and production of radiopharmaceutical drugs, and in the 1990's the reactor was, as the first reactor in the world, adapted to function as an epithermal neutron radiation station for treating brain tumors. The treatment method, BNCT (Boron neutron capture therapy), was developed in cooperation with HYKS (Helsinki University Central Hospital), and works by exposing the patient to a thin beam of neutron radiation, which reacts with a substance ingested by the patient which concentrates in the cancer cells. This reaction makes the cancer cells produce internal radiation, which kills them without harming the surrounding cells. The Finnish BNCT project was funded by VTT, the Helsinki University Central Hospital, Clinical Research Institute Helsinki University Central Hospital, University of Helsinki, the Academy of Finland, the National Technology Agency Tekes and the European Union. The first patient was treated in 1999. In the 2000's, treatment was extended from brain tumours to head and neck cancer as well. The first results of the clinical research programme on BNCT were published in August 2007. The treatment is carried out in cooperation between the Department of Oncology of HYKS, VTT, and the company Boneca oy, which runs the practical operation of the station.

BNCT treatments as well as BNCT teaching and research activities are the most important motive to keep up the reactor. The production of industrial isotopes is significant nationally. The Technical University of Helsinki and the Technical University of Lappeenranta use the FiR 1 reactor in teaching of nuclear technique. It is also used for nuclear safety teaching in Finland, Sweden and of IAEA.

Technical information:

  • Operator: VTT (Technical Research Centre of the Finnish State,)
  • Capacity: 250 kW (not used for electricity production)
  • still missing: (How much radiation it sets free?)
  • Running since: 27.3.1962 still missing: start of construction
  • Type of reactor: TRIGA MARK II water-cooled open tank reactor
  • still missing: how much waste a reactor produces per year (probably stored at the interim storage of STUK. Funds exist for final disposal of waste and decommission of reactor.)
  • Fuel: U (uranium) + ZrHx (Zirkonium Hydride) Enrichment level of Uranium: 20 % U-235. (Has enough fuel for 50 years or more.)
  • still missing: how many employees (Staff of Boneca corporation)
  • still missing: number of people living around the facility (Situated in heavily urban area, on a university campus.)


info about the history of the reactor and the BNCT treatment on VTT's pages:


-haven't read this yet, but there's a SWOT analysis (Strenghts, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Risks) of the reactor's future prospects, and also an interesting map showing other research reactors around the baltic sea.

data (in finnish):

in finnish: Research reactor on wikipedia:

Info about research reactors in general, and FIR 1's reactor type (TRIGA): UIC Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper # 66:


Illustration of BNCT treatment: http:// . JPG

Photo of a TRIGA reactor core (probably taken in the USA): http:// . jpeg