SCK•CEN, renowned partner in a worldwide network, signed several collaboration agreements
SCK•CEN is a world-renowned partner in a global network of scientific institutions that has also earned international recognition as a research and training centre. It aims to create sustainable alliances with different types of partners. In recent months, SCK•CEN signed several cooperation agreements with research centres, companies and organisations in various countries, both inside and outside the European Union. It concerns the following research fields:
SCK•CEN signed a collaboration agreement with the National Nuclear Centre (NCC) of Kazakhstan and Kazatomprom. The NCC employs close to 2,700 researchers and consolidates six of Kazakhstan’s research centres. This collaboration agreement particularly concerns the MYRRHA project, which from 2023 will contribute to the development of solutions in the fields of nuclear energy and medicine, industry and renewable energies. This signing comes a few weeks after the signature of a similar agreement with China. These conventions constitute the first step towards the Asian countries’ probable entry into the MYRRHA consortium, 70% of which has to consist of member countries of the European Union.
This year it will be exactly 35 years since SCK•CEN signed its first “contract of association,” joining the “Association Euratom-Belgian State on Fusion Research.” On the occasion of this 35th anniversary, SCK•CEN will organise a topical day to look back at past R&D efforts in the field of fusion before looking to the future of this interesting research area. This topical day takes place on December 7 (see info on our website). SCK•CEN also signed earlier this year the renewed Trilateral Euregio Cluster (TEC) agreement, with FOM in the Netherland and FZJ in Germany. The agreement focuses on the plasma-wall interaction studies, for which SCK•CEN started a few years ago to carry out specific R&D thanks to its "VISION I" plasma simulator.
In the spring of 2009, Belgium decided to participate in the three most important projects of the International Broader Approach agreement for fusion (BA). This BA is an agreement signed between the European Union and Japan, within the framework of the decision to implement the ITER project in Europe. It comprises mostly three main programme lines:
The IFMIF/EVEDA project (International Fusion Material Irradiation Facility /Engineering Validation and Engineering Design Activities
The JT60 Super Advanced Project (Japan, Tokamak)
The IFERC Project (International Fusion Experimental Research Centre)
Within Europe, participation in the activities of the BA is based on voluntary contributions from several Members States, of which Belgium declared officially its desire to participate in 2007 and confirmed its contribution in 2009.
As coordinator of the BA, SCK•CEN recently signed two important contracts. One concerns a major agreement with ALM in Sclessin (Ateliers de la Meuse SA). ALM will produce a cryostat, a large stainless steel tank that can maintain internally very low temperatures (-269 ° C), while the outside remains at room temperature. The tank will be used to carry out cold tests on very strong superconducting magnets for the JT-60 SA Tokamak in Japan. The tests will be conducted at the CEA in France. ALM will also be responsible for the production of specialized accessories, including the system of vacuum pumps. This firm was chosen for its expertise and experience in creating similar smaller cryostats and vessels for very high vacuums, in particular for the CERN. The Belgian industry is well-respected for its expertise in and realisation of such advanced technologies. It is possible that in the future SCK•CEN and ALM will take part in other international programmes.
The other contract was signed with IBA (Ion Beam Applications - Louvain-la-Neuve). IBA will design and supply radio frequency power amplifiers for feeding an extremely powerful particle accelerator for the IFMIF facility. IFMIF will be used to test materials that can withstand the specific conditions in a future fusion reactor. The current contract concerns the building of a prototype accelerator over the next few years, in Japan. IBA was chosen because of its recognised expertise in the field of particle accelerators and similar experience in the production and delivery of power supplies for accelerators of different sizes. In this case, IBA will provide for the first time a radio frequency power supply for a linear accelerator with superconducting accelerating cavities. This involves the application of advanced technologies, in which our country and our industries have an excellent reputation and for which their expertise is widely recognised. Participation in such an international programme of this size also provides SCK•CEN and IBA opportunities for technological development.
During a royal mission to Brazil SCK•CEN renewed its agreement (started in 2005) with the Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear (CNEN - the National Commission for Nuclear Energy) in Brazil. This cooperation involves the storage of radioactive waste, dosimetry (e.g. in nuclear medicine), reactor materials, fuel and radiation in the BR2 reactor. In addition, SCK•CEN will also be responsible for education and training and exchange of researchers and doctoral and postdoctoral students.
CEA (France), SCK•CEN (Belgium) and NRG (The Netherlands) signed a major position paper for the establishment of the ‘European Research Area of Experimental Reactors’ (ERAER – see article on this subject in this edition of ENS NEWS). This paper stresses the importance of cooperation and implementation of a clear policy roadmap for the activities in European research reactors. It emphasises the following necessary irradiation infrastructure for future nuclear research in this area:
Opportunities for materials and fuel testing to support reactor safety, plant life management, optimisation and innovation for current and future nuclear power reactors
Development of a flexible fast-spectrum irradiation facility in order to put Europe in a leading position in the worldwide search for the sustainable nuclear energy of tomorrow
Radioisotopes production for nuclear medicine, a major commitment to public health
In Europe, the first generation of research reactors is approaching the statutory end of its operational lifetime. Research reactors are the key to developing a new generation of power reactors with improved fuel economy and high-level waste reduction, for research into fusion technology and for the production of radioisotopes. Now it is time for a coherent European policy to define and implement industry standards, while taking into account the needs of citizens and maintaining a high level of scientific expertise.
This policy includes a medium and long-term roadmap for new European research reactors. CEA, SCK•CEN and NRG allocated the following main functions to their new reactors:
Reactor Jules Horowitz (Cadarache, France): a high performance materials testing reactor
MYRRHA (Mol, Belgium): a flexible fast-spectrum irradiation research facility
PALLAS (Petten, The Netherlands): a research reactor as the main European producer of medical isotopes
The above-mentioned reactor operators state that ERAER is the only way to maintain Europe’s leadership in the field of reactor technology and to secure energy supply and satisfy modern healthcare requirements.
For more information: see our website www.sckcen.be.
Highlights 2009 - Press Releases (mostly in Dutch and French) - News