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Twelve delegates from ESFRI, European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, visited MYRRHA to obtain first-hand information on the large research infrastructure and discover its contribution to European society in many fields.
MYRRHA has been on the European radar for two decades. A favourable international review by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD (Organisation for Cooperation and Development) in 2009 led to the Belgian government’s first decision to support MYRRHA development with a dedicated endowment. MYRRHA was included on the ESFRI Roadmap priority list during the Belgian EU-presidency in 2010. The European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures was established with a mandate from the EU Council to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe, and to facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to the better use and development of research infrastructures, at EU and international level.
ESFRI delegates from the executive board and various working groups were given a comprehensive overview of the entire project. The overview included MYRRHA’s contribution towards enhanced cancer diagnosis and treatment by supplying current and innovative radioisotopes. The ESFRI delegates were particularly interested in MYRRHA’s role as a pre-industrial prototype for nuclear waste treatment. MYRRHA’s unique configuration as an accelerator driven system will enable transmutation of the most toxic spent nuclear fuel components into elements that return to natural radiotoxicity levels within a few hundreds of years (as opposed to hundreds of thousands of years). By reducing disposal time and surface, transmutation is widely expected to have a favourable impact on nuclear waste disposal requirements.
After a question and answer session, the delegates visited the Heavy Liquid Metal Complex at the Technology Building, where they were briefed on several unique testing installations for the MYRRHA project.
The visit was facilitated by BELSPO, the Belgian Science Policy Office.