Stay up to date with MYRRHA, the very first prototype of a nuclear reactor powered by a particle accelerator.
All eyes on MYRRHA during the 62nd IAEA General Conference
MYRRHA drew a lot of attention at the 62nd IAEA General Conference, which was held on 17-21 September in Vienna this year. The increased interest is the result of the recent decision by the Belgian government to build this worldwide unique infrastructure, thanks to a financing of 558 million euros.
The multi-purpose research installation MYRRHA drew a lot of attention at the 62nd IAEA General Conference (International Atomic Energy Agency), which was held on 17-21 September in Vienna this year. The increased interest is the result of the recent decision by the Belgian government to build this worldwide unique infrastructure, thanks to a financing of 558 million euros.
The research installation MYRRHA has a very clear ambition: to offer a technological solution to reduce nuclear waste and produce new types of medical radioisotopes. “Through a technology that drastically reduces the volume and radiotoxicity of high-level waste, MYRRHA shortens the period of storage so that, from some hundred thousand years, it goes down to some hundreds of years. MYRRHA therefore plays a crucial role for society”, explains Hamid Aït Abderrahim, SCK•CEN Deputy Director-General and Director of MYRRHA. In the future, the research infrastructure will also contribute to the research into and the production of theranostic radioisotopes (for diagnose research and therapeutic treatment).
The Belgian government acknowledges the social value of this project. The authorities consequently decided to support the project by investing 558 million euros in it. “Thanks to the Belgian financing, we can launch the construction of MYRRHA. We will start with the particle accelerator and its target facilities for fundamental and applied research as well as medical applications”, states Hamid Aït Abderrahim (SCK•CEN). Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem: “Belgium belongs to the most innovative countries in the world and plays a crucial role in the development of innovative, safe and sustainable nuclear technology through the MYRRHA project. As Special Envoy of the Federal Government to support the MYRRHA project, I focus on finding foreign partners to work jointly with the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre on the further development of the prototype of a nuclear reactor driven by a particle accelerator. This increased interest is an important stimulus for foreign investors and will most certainly draw them into this very promising project.”
Realization of a new large research infrastructure in Belgium MYRRHA
558 million euros for a new research infrastructure in Mol
As the outcome of the Council of Ministers of this Friday, the federal government announced their support to the realization of MYRRHA, a world’s unique research infrastructure, on SCK•CEN’s premises in Mol. MYRRHA once again puts Belgium in the international spotlight in terms of scientific research and paves the way to new applications, especially for nuclear waste management and the development of new therapies to fight against cancer.
MYRRHA is a research facility which is paramount for society in more ways than one. This infrastructure will develop an innovative solution for managing nuclear waste in addition to geological disposal. By designing a technology which is able to drastically reduce the amount and radiotoxicity of high-level radioactive waste, MYRRHA will allow us to reduce the period during which waste is disposed from some hundreds of thousands of years to some hundreds of years.
Another huge challenge met by MYRRHA is the research and development in nuclear medicine. MYRRHA will contribute to producing new radioisotopes and to developing less invasive therapies to fight against cancer.
The research infrastructure MYRRHA is the first prototype of a nuclear reactor driven by a particle accelerator in the world. In this setup, the ‘subcritical’ reactor core has the distinctive feature of not having sufficient fuel to maintain the nuclear fission chain reaction. The particle accelerator initiates and maintains the chain reaction. This innovative technology is therefore safe and easy to control: by turning off the particle accelerator, the reactor immediately and automatically stops.
“Thanks to its unique and innovative nature, the research infrastructure will attract researchers from all over the world to Belgium and will train a new generation of experts to provide technological solutions to these major challenges”, claims Eric van Walle, SCK•CEN Director-General.
The financing of 558 million decided by the Belgian government will help carry out the first important part of MYRRHA: building the first part of its particle accelerator and target facilities on SCK•CEN’s premises in Mol. The infrastructure, that will be put into service in 2026, will produce innovative radioisotopes and promote fundamental and applied research on materials of the future.
The Council of Ministers also approved the creation of the aisbl/ivzw MYRRHA (international non-profit-making body), a legal status adapted to large-scale projects financed by several foreign States. This decision will strengthen promotion and reception of foreign partners which are interested in the MYRRHA project and its applications.
“Thanks to our government’s support, MYRRHA has made great progress. I would like to thank everyone who assisted in obtaining this decision and who supported this project from the very beginning, in Belgium and abroad. The political, industrial and local authorities support also contributed to this success and will remain crucial to complete the project”, states Hamid Aït Abderrahim, Director of the MYRRHA program and Deputy Director-General of SCK•CEN.
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MYRRHA Supplier Event
The engineers of MYRRHA are busy planning the first phase of the construction: the 100 MeV particle accelerator. In order to involve the suppliers of these components early and closely in the process, the MYRRHA team organised an information meeting in Brussels on 7 June, followed by a visit to the cyclotron in Louvain-la-Neuve on 8 June.
We are actively working on the design and construction of MYRRHA, our future and multifunctional research facility. Our engineers are busy planning the first phase of the construction: the 100 MeV particle accelerator. In order to involve the suppliers of these components early and closely in the process, the MYRRHA team organised an information meeting in Brussels on 7 June, followed by a visit to the cyclotron in Louvain-la-Neuve on 8 June.
More than 80 interested suppliers of Cryogenics, FR amplifiers and control systems attended the event. "Reducing nuclear waste and producing medical isotopes. That's the vision we want to realise and that's why MYRRHA has to connect with industrial suppliers. We want to make that connection today," said Hamid Aïd Abderrahim, director of MYRRHA.
Pieter De Crem visits MYRRHA
Als speciaal gezant van de Belgische federale regering voor het onderzoeksproject MYRRHA heeft staatssecretaris Pieter De Crem een bezoek gebracht aan het Studiecentrum voor Kernenergie in Mol.
In his capacity as Special Envoy of the Belgian Federal Government for the MYRRHA research project, State Secretary Pieter De Crem paid a visit to the Research Centre for Nuclear Energy in Mol.
In 1995-1997, the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre started the MYRRHA project for the design and construction of the first prototype of a nuclear installation powered by a particle accelerator on its premises in Mol. MYRRHA focuses on reducing the radioactivity of existing nuclear waste and on producing radioisotopes for medical applications.
The Federal Government decided in 2015 to support the MYRRHA project and designated the Special Envoy of State Secretary De Crem, who supports this project in a sustainable way and helps convincing potential foreign partners to invest in it.
In this context, State Secretary De Crem already had a meeting with Mr Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency in October 2017. The IAEA was found to have a good understanding of the MYRRHA project, which in their view could significantly simplify the existing fast neutron systems.
The visit to the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre enables State Secretary De Crem to gain a thorough insight and up-to-date status of the MYRRHA project.
MYRRHA, the only Belgian infrastructure in the European large research facilities list
In 2010, through its Strategy Forum on Research infrastructures (ESFRI), the European Commission put MYRRHA on the high priority list of large research infrastructures for energy. By choosing the multifunctional Belgian installation, Europe makes sure to stay at the cutting edge of research in energy security and in fighting climate change.
The European Commission has been supporting the MYRRHA project since the very beginning. In 2010, through its Strategy Forum on Research infrastructures (ESFRI), the Commission put MYRRHA on the high priority list of large research infrastructures for energy. By choosing the multifunctional Belgian installation, Europe makes sure to stay at the cutting edge of research in energy security and in fighting climate change.
The task of these future large scientific equipment facilities, which will be built in Europe in the next few years, will be to contribute to finding safe and sustainable solutions to the major social, economic and environmental challenges. These are the challenges our societies have to face in terms of production and use of energy resources.
"MYRRHA received a double European recognition. Thanks to its position as a large scientific installation on the ESFRI Roadmap 2010 on the one hand and to its technology for fission reactors (an alloy of lead and bismuth) being chosen amongst three technologies for the European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII) on the other hand. Europe wishes to speed up the development and roll-out of low-carbon (CO2) technologies on the continent," explains Hamid Aït Abderrahim, Deputy Director-General at SCK•CEN.
This week starts a review of all priority projects, as it is the case every two years. At the end of 2017, the decision for MYRRHA will be taken and the project will either stay on the priority list until 2020 or get the Landmark status considering phase 1 will have been started and the implementation of the project will be in progress.
"Belgium is more determined than ever to stay at the vanguard of nuclear technological innovation. As proven by the MYRRHA project, we continuously invest in nuclear research to maintain and strengthen our expertise and our infrastructures. The technological solutions offered by MYRRHA are paramount to the next generations. They will help reduce nuclear waste ecological footprint and guarantee the safe production of medical radioisotopes for everyone." claims Marie Christine Marghem, Minister of Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development.
Would you like to be part of making this innovative and challenging research installation a reality? We need bright people with a scientific, operational and international background who are full of enthusiasm and who believe in the future of what we are doing. Join the MYRRHA team!