MYRRHA: a new multifunctional research reactor

Global success story

Safe and efficient nuclear energy with less waste

MYRRHA is the very first prototype of a nuclear installation that is driven by a particle accelerator. Such an accelerator driven system or ADS has 2 big advantages.

An ADS has u subcritical core: there is not enough fissile material to maintain the fission reaction. To prevent the reactor stopping, a particle accelerator has to continually inject neutrons into the reactor core. Without this injection nuclear fission is not possible. When the external source is deactivated, the chain reaction also stops within a fraction of a second. This intrinsic quality makes the system very safe and easy to control.

In contrast to existing reactors, accelerator driven systems or ADS, such as MYRRHA, operate with fast neutrons. This innovative technology, optimises the utilisation of uranium fuel and as a  consequence reduces the amount of radiotoxic waste. Moreover, an accelerator driven system is suitable for safe and concentrated transmutation of long-lived waste.

Materials and fuels for new reactors and nuclear fusion

In the long term MYRRHA will take over the tasks of our BR2 reactor. For several decades the flexible and powerful BR2 material test reactor has played a prominent part in international research into reactor safety, materials and fuels for various reactor types and in the European nuclear fusion programme.

Irradiation tests in MYRRHA will be the basis for the development of materials and components for future nuclear systems. These will be safer, use uranium reserves more efficiently and will produce less radioactive waste. Research in MYRRHA should also assist us with the development of the highly promising nuclear fusion technology.

Worldwide demand for radioisotopes

SCK•CEN is one of the five world leaders in the production of various types of medical and industrial radioisotopes. We supply as much as 30% of the global demand. There is already a considerable demand for imaging and therapy in the health sector. We anticipate an even higher increase in the use of medical radioisotopes as a result of technological progress in nuclear medicine.

Currently these radioisotopes are produced in the BR2 reactor. In order to safeguard the supply and Belgium's leading position following the closure of this reactor in 2026, MYRRHA will take on this socially important production task. Furthermore, MYRRHA also facilitates the development of new types of radioisotopes that fight disease even more effectively and with less damaging side effects. SCK•CEN thus contributes to even better healthcare for us all.

Fighting global warming with doped silicon

To generate renewable energy, installations such as wind turbines and solar panels require semi-conductors that promote the efficient transmission of electricity. Neutron doped silicon is the ideal solution for these high electrical energy applications. The same applies to hybrid vehicles and high speed trains. The production of neutron doped silicon is one of our specialities thanks to the BR2 reactor.

The irradiation capacity represents approximately 20% of current global production. Again demand is rising. MYRRHA is meant to cope with this increasing future demand. Our research reactor will thus contribute to the realisation of low carbon technologies. A significant ‘ace up our sleeve’ in the fight against global warming.

 
 

MYRRHA pictures and 3D simulations