SCK•CEN is actively working on designing and building a new multifunctional research installation: MYRRHA as in Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications.
A world first
MYRRHA is the very first prototype of a nuclear reactor driven by a particle accelerator in the world. Distinctive feature: as an external source of neutrons, this particle accelerator maintains the nuclear fission chain reaction. It is referred to as a subcritical reactor: the core does not contain enough fissile material to spontaneously maintain the chain reaction.
This innovative nuclear technology is safe and easy to control. When the particle accelerator is stopped, the chain reaction also stops automatically within a fraction of a second.
Because of significant differences with the existing reactors, it is safe to say that this research reactor is particularly new:
- MYRRHA operates with fast neutrons, driven by an accelerator. Thanks to these fast neutrons, the fissile material will be used more efficiently within the reactor which will reduce radioactive waste.
- The reactor is cooled by a lead-bismuth alloy.
- The reactor is subcritical and consequently easily controllable.