Dismantling and decontamination
How do you start the demolition of a nuclear power plant or nuclear site? How long does it take? How much does it cost? SCK CEN has already completed numerous large-scale decommissioning projects. These projects provide SCK CEN with a wealth of expertise that it can use internally and valorise externally in the case of installations to be dismantled.
Nuclear fusion seems to be the energy source of the future: clean, safe and almost unlimited available. International partners are joining forces to fine-tune this technology, but the end station has not yet been reached.
New reactors and fuels
Uranium reserves are scarce. At the rate at which the world is consuming nuclear fuel, stocks will be depleted by 2100. Fourth generation reactors, the so-called 'fast' reactors, make more efficient use of uranium. To keep the neutrons fast, the core must be cooled with a gas or liquid metal. SCK CEN is investigating the use of liquid lead-bismuth as a coolant.
Reactors driven by a particle accelerator, better known as Accelerator Driven Systems, have a subcritical core. This means that the core does not have enough fissile material to keep the chain reaction going spontaneously. Therefore, it has to be continuously fed with neutrons: these neutrons are created via a particle accelerator. SCK CEN supports this technology by building MYRRHA (Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications).
Radiochemistry is concerned with the chemistry of radioactive substances. Scientists at SCK CEN study chemical processes on irradiated and natural radioactive materials. Why do they do this? To be able to apply them in the chemical and medical sector, for example for the production of medical radioisotopes. These radioisotopes are indispensable in the fight against cancer. Radiochemistry is therefore the ideal ally to meet societal challenges.