BR2 - Belgian Reactor 2
The BR2 reactor was first operated in Januari 1963. This Materials Testing Reactor is SCK•CEN's most important nuclear facility. It was operated during the past forty years within the framework of many international programmes concerning the development of structural materials and nuclear fuels for various types of nuclear fission reactors as well as for fusion reactor research.
Research & Development
The qualities and particular features of the BR2 reactor also allowed experiments to be performed that were aimed at assessing and demonstrating the safety of nuclear cores.
Today, the reactor plays an essential role in the national and international programmes related to:
- The safety of nuclear reactors, plant lifetime evaluations and ageing of components
- The safety of nuclear fuels, the increase of their burn-up and MOX fuels
- The evolution and assessment of safety problems
- Production activities related to medical and industrial applications
Production of radioisotopes and silicon
Besides its scientific R&D objectives, the BR2 reactor has a second mission: it plays an important role in the support of medicine, by the production of radioisotopes used for diagnostics, the fight against cancer and palliative care. Thus, the reactor is not only used fot scientific research within SCK•CEN's own programmes and for external clients; it is also used for the production of radio-elements and for the production of Neutron Transmutation Doped (NTD) silicon (Si).
BR2 is one of the best performing reactors in the world and it is becoming more important as the number of such research reactors is declining worldwide.
The capabilities and the design of the BR2 are particularly well suited to R&D options, offering:
- A core with a central vertical 200 mm diameter channel, with all its other channels inclined to form a hyperboloidal arrangement around it. This geometry combines compactness leading to high fission power density, with easy access at the top and bottom covers, allowing complex irradiation devices to be inserted and withdrawn
- A large number of experimental positions of 84 mm with in addition 4 peripheral 200 mm channels for large irradiation devices. Experiments can be installed through penetrations in the top and bottom covers of the vessel
- A remarkable flexibility of utilisation: the reactor core configuration and operation mode are adapted to experimental requirements
- Irradiation conditions representative of those of various power reactor types - neutron spectrum tailoring
- High neutron fluxes, both thermal and fast (up to 1015 n/cm2.s)
- Operation cycles of 3 or 4 weeks
Two dedicated irradiation devices that are currently in operation for the irradiation testing of LWR fuels are:
- The PWC/CCD device for testing single fuel rods in a capsule, which can be loaded in a variety of BR2 channels
- The CALLISTO PWR loop occupying three BR2 reactor channels offering a range of possible experimental conditions for the irradiation of up to 9 one-meter long fuel rods per channel.