Research infrastructure

Reactor BR2

Reactor BR2 (Belgian Reactor 2) is amongst the most powerful and flexible research reactors in the world. Since its start-up in 1962 the reactor has operated on uranium with pressurised water as coolant and moderator. BR2 is to undergo a thorough maintenance and modernisation operation until mid-2016. To guarantee a safe and efficient operation, various systems and components will be replaced as a precaution.

Nuclear fuel and materials research


Doped silicon

BR2 plays an important role in international research into how materials behave in nuclear reactors. Thus, in the BR2 we irradiate all kinds of nuclear fuels and materials for different types of reactors and the European nuclear fusion programme. Thanks to the intense radiation we are able to study the ageing of irradiated materials. BR2 thus contributes to the safety of existing but also new nuclear reactors.
BR2 is responsible for 20 to 25% of the world’s total production of the most important radioisotopes. On a weekly basis this can amount to 65% when the reactor is in operation. These radioisotopes are essential for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, for example. We find other applications in industry, such as in systems for monitoring welds and measuring the density and moisture content of different substances.
Doped silicon is produced by the irradiation of silicon, forming a high-grade semiconductor. For a number of applications, irradiation in a nuclear reactor is the only way to produce these components with sufficient quality. This material forms the basic substance for electronic components in, for instance, hybrid vehicles, the locomotives of high-speed trains, solar energy systems and wind turbines.

Detection of neutrinos

A consortium of Belgian, British and French scientists has successfully developed and set up a new type of neutrino detector within the BR2 research reactor. This ambitious project called SoLid (“Search for oscillation with a Lithium-6 detector”) tries to answer a fundamental question in the field of particle physics which has been fueling the debate between scientists for years: do sterile neutrinos exist?

BR2 pictures

BR2 brochure

More information on our Science Platform