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SCK CEN works actively on the design and construction of a new multi-purpose research plant: MYRRHA, which stands for Multi-purpose HYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications.  MYRRHA is a versatile research infrastructure but above all unique. It is the world's first research reactor driven by a particle accelerator.


Versatility in innovation

The special feature of this unique configuration – Accelerator Driven System (ADS) – is the "subcritical" core of the reactor. The core does not have enough fissile material to spontaneously keep the chain reaction going. It must therefore be fed by an external neutron source using a particle accelerator. The particle accelerator fires protons on a target and, in doing so, generates the neutrons that keep the fission reactions in the reactor going. When the particle accelerator is switched off, the chain reaction will stop automatically and the reactor will be shut down within one millionth of a second.

Purple grey gold

Unlike traditional reactors, cooling the reactor core is not done with water but using a liquid metal mixture of lead (44.5%) and bismuth (55.5%). This mixture offers the advantage that it does not inhibit the fission neutrons. These fast neutrons unlock a variety of applications.

The MYRRHA project pursues the development of four applications:

  • Nuclear energy produces a lot of electricity but also generates radioactive waste. This radioactive waste will need 300,000 years to reach its natural radiation level. In the MYRRHA project, SCK CEN studies the transmutation process. Transmutation converts radioactive substances with a long life span into less toxic substances with a short life span. Thanks to transmutation, the final volume of residual waste is reduced by a factor 100 and the natural radiation level is already reached after 300 years (as opposed to 300,000 years). In this sense, it offers an opportunity to optimise the geological disposal.

  • In 2018, an estimated 18.1 million people were diagnosed with cancer, 9.6 million patients died on account of the disease. It is expected that these figures will increase and that, as a result, also the demand for radioisotopes will increase. To be able to meet this increasing demand, MYRRHA will take on the production of theranostic radio-isotopes (for diagnostic examinations and therapeutic treatment). With MYRRHA, SCK CEN also focuses on the development of new therapeutic radio-isotopes that can fight cancer cells in a more targeted way and thereby significantly reduce the side effects for patients. As from 2027, the accelerator will produce radio-isotopes for medical purposes.

  • Testing materials is essential to warrant and improve the safety of nuclear power plants. MYRRHA offers the opportunity to test current fissile and other materials and to study new materials that will be used in nuclear fusion reactors. Compared to the current research reactors, MYRRHA – thanks to its fast neutrons – will reach irradiation conditions that are closer to that of a fusion reactor.

  • The research infrastructure paves the way for countless promising technologies and applications, but is also a magnet for fundamental research in various scientific disciplines such as nuclear physics, atomic physics, fundamental interactions, solid state physics and nuclear medicine. The project attracts scientists from Belgium and abroad, who will benefit from an education here.

Discover the world's first research reactor powered by a particle accelerator.

Discover the project in detail

Strengthen the MYRRHA team

The MYRRHA project is growing for which we are looking for different talents.

  • MYRRHA - SCK CEN (2019)


    Researchers currently support our team of engineers that is developing the MYRRHA prototype. In future, MYRRHA will offer them the opportunity to perform fundamental research.

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  • MYRRHA - SCK CEN (2019)


    Civil and industrial engineers test, build and maintain MYRRHA. They are the core of this revolutionary project as they will build highly unique infrastructure. Once the installation has been completed, our engineers will also manage MYRRHA.

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  • MYRRHA - SCK CEN (2019)

    Management & support

    We are looking for the next generation of project managers to manage the multitude of future projects. Service technicians graduated in electromechanical engineering, mechanical engineering and electronics will assume the maintenance of the infrastructure.

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