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Modelling and optimization of an ion source heating system

MYRRHA [1,2] (Multi-purpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications) will be the world’s first large-scale Accelerator Driven System project at power levels scalable to industrial systems. In parallel to the reactor, ISOL@MYRRHA [3] will produce Radioactive Ion Beams (RIBs) using the Isotope Separation On-Line (ISOL) technique for fundamental research and medical applications of radioisotopes. The isotope production will be increased by using a high intensity primary beam over a long period while maintaining high-quality RIBs. The higher atom flux prevalently affects the ISOL system, in particular the ion source. An ion source adapted to these new conditions has to be developed before the start of the new accelerator for ISOL@MYRRHA at SCK CEN.

A surface ion source is chosen as a first source to further develop because of its reliability and simple design. The key element of this source is the temperature [4], which is why such source is also called a hot cavity. To understand the hot cavity’s behaviour, finite element thermal-electric simulations were performed with ANSYS [5, 6]. First, the heating system study with experimental results from the SPES project [6] was reproduced. Then, the concept was modified by transforming a formerly passive heat shield into an actively heated part. With this heating system upgrade, the ion source temperature profile can be improved, especially at its exit where high temperature is expected to play a crucial role in ion production and extraction. A realistic prototype of this heating system upgrade was assessed through thermal-electric simulation [5]. This prototype is being validated experimentally. Using the input from the validation, the intern will work on a new prototype version where the thermal-electric and mechanical properties of the ion source heating system will be optimized through simulations with ANSYS.

References :

1. Aït Abderrahim, Hamid ; Michiels, Sidney. “MYRRHA - An Innovative and unique research facility”. 10th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Applications of Accelerators. United States, 2011.
2. Popescu, Lucia 2014 EPJ Web of Conferences 66 10011
3. Ashford M, Popescu L, Houngbo D, Dierckx M and Aït Abderrahim H 2020 Nucl. Instrum. Methods Phys. Res. B 463 244-247
4. R. Kirchner. “On the thermoionization in hot cavities”. In: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A 292 (July 1990), pp. 203–208.
5. Sophie Hurier et al “Design and thermal simulations towards a high intensity radioactive ion source for ISOL@MYRRHA” 2022 J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 2244 012065
6. M. Manzolaro et al. “The SPES surface ionization source”. In: Review of Scientific Instruments 88, 093302 (Sept. 2017).


Subject: Improve a surface ion source heating system, by simulating and testing different designs (thickness/diameter of ion source tube, shape, ...) to optimize the thermal electric properties of the source while keeping the mechanical strength of the overall system.

Objectives: Mechanical conception of different profile

  • Study and select heating system profile to test
  • CAD on FreeCAD or another CAD software
  • ANSYS simulation (thermal-electric, static structural simulation and other) to evaluate test mechanical properties of the system as a function of temperature and current.
  • Check the manufacturability process of the models if needed


  • CAD (with FreeCAD or another software)
  • Simulation ANSYS
  • Data treatment (with R/RStudio or another software)

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

  • Professional bachelor
  • Academic bachelor
  • Master of industrial sciences
  • Master of sciences
  • Master of sciences in engineering

The candidate needs to have a background in

  • Electromechanics
  • Physics
  • Engineering

Estimated duration

2 months of full-time work, could be spread over longer period.

Expert group

Physics and Target Research

SCK CEN Mentor

Hurier Sophie
shurier [at]
+32 (0)14