SCK CEN Receives Government Funding To Lead SMR Research

Belgium’s SCK CEN nuclear research centre (ENS Corporate Member) will receive a budget of €100 million from the Federal Government to conduct research into small modular reactors (SMRs).

In 1952, SCK CEN was created to promote nuclear energy in Belgium and launch the Belgian atomic age.
Today, we are the rock for a wide range of nuclear fields. I am proud that we are constantly exploring new areas and discovering the immense potential of the atom – and doing so in function of social needs

said Eric van Walle, Director General of SCK CEN, at the SCK CEN 70th anniversary ceremony.

The small modular reactors for which the government is providing grants do not use water as a coolant.

A liquid metal – sodium or lead – or a gas has to cool the reactor core. The advantage of this coolant choice is that the nuclear fuel burns up more efficiently, leaving less nuclear waste at the end of the day.

If Belgium chose to explore lead-cooled SMRs, it could benefit from the development pathway of MYRRHA (Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications), which is not an SMR and has different goals, but it shares some principles, such as compactness, the coolant, and thus fast neutrons.

Speaking at the 70th anniversary event, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said

With its unrivalled nuclear expertise, SCK-CEN will lead Belgium towards sustainable nuclear energy […] SCK-CEN has specific expertise in nuclear technology cooled with lead-bismuth. It is a world leader in this field. That puts Belgium in a privileged position.

Read the full SCK CEN Press Release.