Bystroushaak's blog / English section / Technological marvels / LVR-15 research reactor near Prague

LVR-15 research reactor near Prague

I've been on the LVR-15 nuclear reactor in Řež. And I really mean "on", like in "on top of". Sadly, we weren't allowed to take photos, but here is small taste from the official website:

(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2011-reactors-lr-0-and-lvr-15/)

The reactor hall is really old. It was built in the 1957 for the VVR-S reactor and then upgraded to LVR-15 (10MW) in 1987.

The thing that is hard to explain is how incredibly wonderful this all feels. Its like a mix of super-modern and really really old soviet style technology sprinkled with Fallout aesthetics. We were standing on the top of the reactor, where on the photos is the red lid in the middle.

(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2011-reactors-lr-0-and-lvr-15/)

Except that there was no lid, and we could peek right into the reactor itself. It was at the moment powered down for some reason that I've forgotten (upgrade? refueling?), but we could directly observe the fuel rods, but sadly no Cherenkov radiation (the blue glow).

(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2012-rcr-facilities/)
(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2012-rcr-open-day/)
(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://reaktory.cvrez.cz/reaktor-lvr-15/)
(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2012-rcr-facilities/)

And there are these small "offices" directly under the reactor. I just can't help and love it:

(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2012-rcr-open-day/)
(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2012-rcr-open-day/)

Needless to say, that I enjoyed whole tour very much. I've been there with bunch of friends and people from Brmlab, and we all asked all kinds of questions. And the smart and competent people there loved it and gloved with the inner light and answered everything. It was like ultimate nerd Christmas, literally better than any Christmas I can remember.

But still, what "got me" most was that building. Standing on the top of the reactor, I've realized that I am at that moment at the very unique and specific world coordinates. This place, at that time. No photos.

I've turned from the reactor and looked at the building itself, committing it into the memory. Quiet hum of the machinery, that strange mix of old and new and all the wonderful stuff around us, which had a topology that spoke of a reason behind every design decision. The smell, temperature, the power of ten megawatts beneath me. Genius loci of that place. And I knew that I'll return to that memory and I'll stay on the top of the reactor even long time when it all be gone.

(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2011-reactors-lr-0-and-lvr-15/)

Week later and I am still full of impressions. And so many thoughts! I've spent like 10 hours of watching all kind of videos about Czech nuclear program. I mean I knew how reactors work before (I've graduated from physics at high school and one of the final questions was about nuclear reactors), but now I am after specific details. And I marvel at how our little country was able to build its own reactors 50 years ago.

I've also realized how much I love big and complicated machinery. I am a programmer by hearth, but I come from the electronics / mechanics background and I really felt like home. I've decided that I have to go to more tours / excursions of technical objects, and maybe also change my career towards something more .. technical. I work in the offices that are so disconnected from the "real" world out there, that it feels absolutely boring in comparison.

Oh, and I really loved the control panel. This photo is old and from the other reactor LR-0, but visually similar:

(AUTOR NEUVEDEN. Centrum výzkumu Řež s.r.o. [online]. [cit. 24.11.2019]. Dostupný na WWW: http://cvrez.cz/en/publicity/photos-videos-multimedia/2011-reactors-lr-0-and-lvr-15/)

Man, I can't even say, how many times I wished for something like this for our backend services! Especially since we began to use OpenShift. Single visual board, where you can click on individual switches and see the performance and status of everything in one clear picture. In every compane where I've worked, I wished for something like this.

Anyway, I can only recommend visiting the reactor yourself:

This year, you could register for a free tour here:

So I expect that next year, something like:

should work (put a reminder on 2020/10/01).


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Yes, my English is probably horrible, but this kind of blog post doesn't qualify for (paid) grammar corrections yet (there is stuff with higher precedence in queue). If you want to change this, subscribe to my patreon. Even with a $1 / month, you can make a difference.

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