In the mid-70s, the bench complex “Baikal-1” was established on the territory of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site for experimental testing of nuclear rocket engines in general and of its individual units in particular. The IVG.1 research reactor was one of the main experimental facilities included in the bench complex.
The design of the IVG.1 reactor was developed in 1966-1969 at NIKIET. The IVG.1 reactor – a research high-temperature gas-cooled heterogeneous channel-type nuclear reactor with thermal neutrons with a light-water moderator and a beryllium neutron reflector.
Physical start-up of the IVG.1 reactor was carried out in September-November 1972, and the power start-up initiating the reactor operation was on 7 March 1975.
In 1975-1988, a large number of tests of fuel assemblies of reactors, nuclear rocket engines and nuclear power plants were carried out at the IVG.1 reactor, confirming their basic operability. At the same time, operation of fuel rods and fuel assemblies of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor with a nitrogen coolant was experimentally confirmed at the IVG.1 reactor as well as possibility to create such reactor was demonstrated.
Following modernization, from 1991 to the present, the IVG.1M reactor is mainly used in various research programs, the largest of which are neutron activation analysis of reactor technology materials, studying the lithium diverter operation of the ITER reactor prototype, studying gas lasers with nuclear pumping and others.
A program is currently being intensively carried out to replace the IVG.1M reactor fuel with low enriched uranium, and a project is being prepared to upgrade the reactor systems, which will increase the operational performance and experimental potential of the IVG.1M reactor.