[Neutron] The OPAL Reactor was formally opened today by the Prime Minister

ROBINSON, Robert rro at ansto.gov.au
Fri Apr 20 17:30:15 CDT 2007

Today the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. John Howard MP, opened
Australia's new A$400 million nuclear research reactor, OPAL, at ANSTO
<outbind://26/#_ftn1> [1] in Sydney's south. 


ANSTO's Executive Director, Dr Ian Smith, said it was an historic day for
Australia and a major step forward for Australian science.


"OPAL is the jewel in the crown of Australian nuclear science, and is
Australia's largest single scientific investment," said Dr Smith. "It is
destined to be one of the top three reactors in the world for scientific


"OPAL's nuclear tools will help scientists better understand a number of
issues such as essential biological processes in the body, genetics and
diseases like cancer and obesity.


"OPAL will contribute to a variety of areas," said Dr Smith. "For example,
helping to improve food processing and storage, contributing to the
development of a more sustainable energy industry and providing detailed
analysis of the earth's geological structure. Things we could not do before
in Australia.


"The facility will also allow ANSTO to continue supplying nuclear medicines
to about half a million Australians each year, with a capacity to view to
increase this number in the future," said Dr Smith. "Many research
opportunities also lie on the horizon in the areas of nuclear medicine
diagnosis and treatments for major diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's.


"ANSTO's silicon irradiation production business will grow thanks to OPAL,
and the semiconductor industry which uses irradiated silicon to produce
chips for computers, cameras, washing machines and other electronic
equipment will increasingly look to ANSTO for this service," said Dr Smith.


Dr Rob Robinson, Head of ANSTO's Bragg Institute - which manages and
operates ANSTO's seven new neutron beam instruments - said, "The OPAL
facility is already attracting major interest from local and international
scientific researchers and will allow ANSTO's science to dramatically


"These instruments are very sophisticated and are designed to measure and
understand materials, including biological substances, at the atomic level,"
explained Dr Robinson. "In addition, a sample can be placed under various
influences such as pressure, heat or chemicals, so scientists can find out
how it reacts in certain environments.


"This way we can understand, for example, what happens during a
manufacturing process, or how a molecule reacts when it interacts with a
drug, thereby providing information about how that drug works in the human


OPAL replaces ANSTO's previous reactor HIFAR <outbind://26/#_ftn2> [2],
which was shut down at the end of January. OPAL was designed by Argentine
reactor designers, INVAP, who also manufactured the "nuclear" components.
The building was constructed by John Holland Construction and Engineering
Pty Ltd and Evans Deakin Industries Limited. The neutron beam instruments
were designed by ANSTO scientists and engineers in collaboration with other
scientific and engineering organisations.


Photographs from today's event and a celebration for the Australian science
and business communities held last night are available on the following
website:  <http://editorial.gettyimages.com/editorial/publicity.aspx>


More information and to arrange interviews please call Sharon Kelly, Media
Adviser on (02) 9717 9575 or

0400 394 085 or  <mailto:sharon.kelly at ansto.gov.au>
sharon.kelly at ansto.gov.au OLE_LINK1


 <outbind://26/#_ftnref1> [1]ANSTO is the Australian Nuclear Science and
Technology Organisation, the country's national nuclear research and
development organisation and the centre of Australian nuclear expertise -
over 70 per cent of all radioisotopes used in Australian nuclear medicine
are made in ANSTO's reactor. 

 <outbind://26/#_ftnref2> [2] High Flux Australian Reactor


Robert A. Robinson
Head, The Bragg Institute, B87
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
PMB 1, Menai NSW 2234

Tel:    +61 (2) 9717 9204
FAX:    +61 (2) 9717 3606
Mobile: 0417 017 503
E-mail: robert.robinson at ansto.gov.au


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