Issue No. 48 Winter
(May 2015)


ENS News

Word from the President

Status of the Fluoride Salt High Temperature Reactor Materials Irradiation Tests at the MIT Research Reactor

Assessment of the Burnout Phenomenon in the SAFARI-1

Developing Strategic Plans for Effective Utilization of Research Reactors

ENS Events

PIME 2015: Embracing and communicating change

RRFM 2015: From the Perspective of Young Generation

TopFuel 2015

Member Societies

The Nuclear Delta™ is now trademarked by the Nuclear Institute

NENE 2015

Spanish Nuclear Society

Three leading players on the nuclear skills landscape have joined forces to sign a new collaborative agreement that promotes the highest standards of professionalism across the UK’s nuclear industry.

Nuclear for Climate initiative fuels nuclear and climate change debate

Decommissioning on top of the agenda at ECED 2015 conference

YGN Report

Romania: Daniela Lulache, female leader of the nuclear industry

Corporate Members

Important update for reactor BR2


Improved Simulator Training Session Monitoring and Debriefing

Business Programme for the VII International Forum ATOMEXPO 2015 is approved

ENS World News

FORATOM GHG avoidance paper

ENS sponsored conferences

ENS Members

Links to ENS Member Societies

Links to ENS Corporate Members

Editorial staff


TopFuel 2015

Topfuel 2015
13 - 17 September 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland



European Space Agency

Belgian schools participate in live in-flight call with astronaut in ISS


One of the biggest challenges facing space research is to enable long-duration manned space flights. It's a fact that it is impossible to take enough water and food on board for a manned mission to Mars. The European Space Agency (ESA) collaborates with Belgian the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) and several other scientific partners, to develop a system that is capable of producing oxygen, potable water and food on the basis of organic and inorganic waste. Bacteria are key elements in this process.

For the shorter missions, as we know from experience, everything the astronauts need is packed on earth and sent with them. For long-duration missions, this is no longer possible. Various generations of scientists have worked for 25 years on creating an independent ecosystem for space crafts. SCK•CEN is one of the founders of this MELiSSA project (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative). Since this pioneering Belgian work began, MELiSSA has grown into a large-scale international project led by ESA.

"It is the only way we are ever going to achieve space travel to Mars", says Natalie Leys, head of the Microbiology Unit and Project Manager at SCK•CEN. "For the fixation of CO2 and the production of oxygen from water, we use a well-known process: photosynthesis. To integrate that process in space, we need microbiology. We looked for the smallest organisms possible that conduct photosynthesis, and this is how we discovered cyanobacteria. Small-scale is important because, obviously, it is impossible to plant a tree in a space capsule."

From space to class room

To give young people an idea of this fascinating and complex space research programme, ESA launched the Food from Spirulina project. In March, experimentation kits were delivered to schools all over Europe. Thousands of pupils put on their lab coats and started experimenting with spirulina, one of the essential bacteria in MELiSSA. That way, they could see for themselves that spirulina is capable of producing oxygen.

For 100 Belgian pupils the experiment even assumes a special kind of continuity as, together with Swedish and Greek pupils, they can share their experiences today live with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on board the International Space Station ISS. SCK•CEN was selected by ESA to organise a live video connection with ISS from the turbine hall of the former research reactor BR3, in Mol.


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