Belgian Reactor 1 or BR1, operational since 1956, is the oldest research reactor in Belgium. It is an air-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor. BR1 offers flexible irradiation and calibration services. The reactor is available to other research centres, universities and the industry, and plays an important role in the education of scientists.
BR2, Belgian Reactor 2, is one of the most powerful research reactors in the world. It is used for the testing of fuels and materials for different reactor types and for the European fusion programme.
BR2 is also an important instrument for the production of radioisotopes for medical and industrial applications and for silicon doping for the electronics industry.
BR3, Belgian Reactor 3, was a prototype of the pressurised water reactors (PWR's). It was selected as a European pilot project for the optimisation of decommissioning and decontamination techniques and processes and for the realistic assessment of costs. Furthermore, BR3 was a test case to develop techniques for minimisation of secondary waste and minimisation of radiation doses to the personnel.
The VENUS reactor was used for the validation of the safety margins of reactor calculations.
The transformation of VENUS, as part of the preparation of the GUINEVERE project, in support of MYRRHA, started in 2008.
Both projects contribute to the development of ADS (Accelerator Driven Systems).
An ADS allows to charge up to half of the core with high activity nuclear waste which results in a concentrated form of treatment.
The underground laboratory HADES, at a depth of 225 m, allows the study of clay as potential geological host formation for long-lived and high-active nuclear waste. It is operated by the Economic Interest Group EURIDICE, a collaboration set up between NIRAS/ONDRAF (the Belgian radwaste agency) and SCK•CEN.
Recently this underground laboratory has been substantially expanded in order to perform large-scale tests to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of the disposal of heat-generating nuclear waste.
The Laboratory for High and Medium level Activity evaluates the effects of irradiation on materials at use in present and future nuclear installations. A wide variety of mechanical, physico-chemical and microstructure research tools are available in and out of remotely-operated hot-cells.
The laboratory is involved in applied and fundamental research supported by mathematical modelling to verify and predict the behaviour of nuclear materials during their service life.
Nuclear analysis and chemical laboratories
SCK•CEN measures and evaluates the internal contamination of employees and operators in the nuclear industry and the contamination of the territory and the food chain.
Its laboratories also support the research reactors and other labs for destructive and non-destructive research on highly radioactive materials. These laboratories also support the nuclear emergency planning to which SCK•CEN supplies an important contribution for the Belgian and European policy.
More information about the research installations at SCK•CEN can be found in the section 'Research facilities'.