Science towards sustainaility

OECD/NEA gives positive evaluation of the MYRRHA project

The SCK•CEN MYRRHA project was first described in an article in ENS NEWS N° 21 (summer 2008). Since then an independent review of the project commissioned by the Belgian government has been carried out and the results made known. Such is the interest in this important project that ENS NEWS felt it necessary to give its readers an update. And here it is……

MYRRHA (for a more detailed analysis of the project go to: is a multipurpose flexible fast spectrum irradiation facility with thermal islands, based on a sub-critical lead-bismuth cooled reactor, driven by a high power proton linear accelerator coupled to a spallation source. MYRRHA is intended to replace the BR2 material testing reactor in the early 2020s.

The Belgian government asked the OECD/NEA to perform an independent evaluation of the project. The results of the evaluation carried out by an international review team composed of André Versteegh (Chair, The Netherlands), Frank Carré (France), Jean-Marc Cavedon (Switzerland), Joachim Knebel (Germany), Paul Lisowski (USA), Toru Ogawa (Japan) and Derek Pooley (UK) are available on the NEA website at:

The expert review team came to the following conclusions.

MYRRHA is an innovative and exciting project and the facility would be unique in the world. It could play a role in the following contexts:

  • in decisions related to the transmutation of nuclear waste and the development of the associated technology

  • in the development of advanced nuclear reactors, especially lead-cooled reactors

  • as a fast neutron irradiation facility for materials and component testing for fission and fusion reactors

  • as a neutron irradiation facility for silicon crystal doping and the manufacturing of radioactive isotopes for medical and industrial sources

  • as a resource serving the needs of accelerator-based scientific applications (radioactive beams, proton therapy, proton-based isotope production, accelerator science,…)

The review team furthermore stated: "In summary, the overall estimated capital and operating costs for MYRRHA are reasonable and consistent with projects of a similar nature". The team acknowledges the excellent world-wide reputation of SCK•CEN and the important benefits that it has brought to Belgium. It, therefore, advises the government to give the go-ahead to the project and to provide funding for a further phase of work comprising, among other things of:

  • detailed design work, supported by R&D when necessary, in close collaboration with potential project managers and component suppliers

  • conversion of the existing general statements of interest from potential investors and users into firm commitments

The Belgian Government is expected to follow the recommendations by the expert review team and to announce that decision in the next few weeks.

ENS NEWS will keep readers up to date with further news of significance.

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