MARIA Research Reactor To Be Modernised By 2027

On 20th June 2023, the Council of Ministers of Poland adopted a resolution on the MARIA nuclear research reactor modernisation programme, so as to enable its operation beyond 2027.

The MARIA reactor is currently the only and unique research facility of this type in Poland and in the world, having a significant importance for public health, as a producer of radiopharmaceuticals, economy and science.

the Polish Ministry of Climate & Environment stated.

The modernisation will cover five main areas:

  • electricity supply systems,
  • control and security systems,
  • ventilation system,
  • dosimetry systems,
  • other modernisations (including technological facilities, emergency warning systems and fan cooling).

According to the programme, the modernisation will take place between 2023 and 2027, and the cost of this project will be about €20m (PLN 91.7m).

So far, the MARIA research reactor is licensed to operate until 2025, but thanks to the upgrades, it will be able to operate until at least 2050.

Read the Polish Ministry of Climate & Environment Press Release (in Polish).

The MARIA research nuclear reactor, so named in honour of the Polish Nobel Prize winner Maria Sklodowska-Curie, was launched in December 1974.

It is a water and beryllium moderated high flux pool-type reactor with graphite reflector and pressurised channels containing concentric six-tube assemblies of fuel elements.

Medical radioisotopes generated by the plant are a vital component in a range of medical research projects. According to Poland’s National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ), approximately 380,000 nuclear medicine procedures are conducted annually in Poland, highlighting the importance of the reactor’s continued operation and its role in public health and medicine.

NCBJ also said about 17 million people around the world use products based on radioisotopes produced in the reactor, with Maria covering about 12-15% of the global supply of molybdenum-99.

As well as radioisotope production, it is used for:

  • testing of fuel and structural materials for nuclear power engineering;
  • neutron transmutation doping of silicon;
  • neutron modification of materials;
  • research in neutron and condensed matter physics neutron radiography;
  • neutron activation analysis;
  • neutron beams in medicine; and
  • training in the field of reactor physics & technology.