Nuclear Systems Exploitation

Introduction

The Nuclear Systems Exploitation (NSE) expert group is a team of scientists, engineers, operators and technicians. The expert group consists of two units: the Nuclear System Operations (NSO) unit and the Nuclear System Measurements (NSM) unit.

  • The NSO unit guarantees the safe operation and maintenance of the BR1 and VENUS research reactors.
  • The NSM unit performs experiments at these facilities and provides reactor dosimetry services for internal and external customers.

Furthermore the expert group provides a variety of services to nuclear power plants and to industry.

The NSE group also contributes to the SCK•CEN Academy by providing teachers to various courses on reactor physics related subjects, and by organising lab sessions at its facilities.

Main activities

BR1 reactor

The NSE team guarantees the maintenance and safe operation of the BR1 research reactor. It develops and implements experimental devices and performs the requested experiments and irradiations. The applications at the BR1 reactor include:

  • Calibration of nuclear instrumentation in standard irradiation fields: the final step in the production process of instrumentation for other nuclear reactors.
  • Production of NTD silicon: base material for the semiconductor industry.
  • Neutrography: imaging technique similar to X-rays but with neutrons. Offers the advantage to perform non-intrusive investigation inside metallic objects.
  • Neutron activation: production of tracers, neutron activation analysis,...
  • Aging of electronic components: testing of resistance to radiation of electronic components used in spatial industry.
  • Organization of practical sessions for the training of students (BNEN, Belgian and foreign universities) and engineers (nuclear industry) like reactor start-up, calibration of control rods, measurements of temperature coefficients, and theoretical training on nuclear reactor theory.

VENUS reactor

The NSE team guarantees the maintenance and safe operation of the VENUS reactor. It develops and implements experimental devices and performs the requested experiments and irradiations. The main activities at this facility are:

  • Validation of neutronic codes and optimisation of core configurations, in close collaboration with the NSP unit.
  • Providing support to the licensing of the MYRRHA reactor for what concerns the validation of on-line subcriticality monitoring (GUINEVERE and FREYA projects).
  • Organisation of practical exercises for students and new employees in the nuclear industry.

Reactor dosimetry

The Reactor Dosimetry service offers standard services for internal and external customers. These services are BELAC accredited according to ISO 17025 and include:

  • Consultancy on number, type and emplacement of dosimeters.
  • Preparation of dosimeters and irradiation capsules.
  • Gamma-ray spectrometry analysis of irradiated dosimeters.
  • Determination of neutron fluences in collaboration with the customer.

Moreover we offer consultancy and services for retrospective reactor dosimetry and for research and reactor experiments and calibration services for neutron and gamma-ray detectors in the BR1 reactor.

Projects

  • GUINEVERE (Generator of Uninterrupted Intense NEutrons at the lead VEnus REactor).  It was a FP6 project that aimed to build up a low power ADS system based on the VENUS reactor coupled to the GENEPI3C accelerator.
  • FREYA (Fast Reactor Experiments for hYbrid Applications). It is a FP7 project focused on the validation of the methodology for on-line reactivity monitoring of ADS systems.

Services & Consultancy

  • BR1 is a flexible instrument that offers a wide variety of neutron flux levels and spectra for different purposes. Reservations can be made per half day (4 hours).
  • Lab sessions can be organized at the BR1 and VENUS facilities where basic reactor kinetics and dynamics are taught and the theory is put into practice.
  • Benchmark experiments at the VENUS reactor.
  • Logistic support of nuclear instrumentation (storage, maintenance and dispatching).
  • Technical support to KC Doel during their revision period.
  • Reactor dosimetry services: preparation of dosimetry, g-spectrometry measurements and consultancy.

 

Head of NSE Expert Group: Guido Vittiglio
Head of NSM Unit: Jan Wagemans
Head of NSO Unit: Bart Van Houdt