The mini-calorimeter (MCAL) instrument on-board the AGILE satellite is a non-imaging gamma-ray scintillation detector sensitive in the 300 keV-100 MeV energy range with a total on-axis geometrical area of 1400 cm. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are one of the main scientific targets of the AGILE mission and the MCAL design as an independent self-triggering detector makes it a valuable all-sky monitor for GRBs. Furthermore MCAL is one of the very few operative instruments with microsecond timing capabilities in the MeV range.Aims. In this paper the results of GRB detections with MCAL after one year of operation in space are presented and discussed.Methods. A flexible trigger logic implemented in the AGILE payload data-handling unit allows the on-board detection of GRBs. For triggered events, energy and timing information are sent to telemetry on a photon-by-photon basis, so that energy and time binning are limited by counting statistics only. When the trigger logic is not active, GRBs can be detected offline in ratemeter data, although with worse energy and time resolution.Results. Between the end of June 2007 and June 2008 MCAL detected 51 GRBs, with a detection rate of about 1 GRB/week, plus several other events at a few milliseconds timescales. Since February 2008 the on-board trigger logic has been fully active. Comparison of MCAL detected events and data provided by other space instruments confirms the sensitivity and effective area estimations. MCAL also joined
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