On October 17, our VENUS-F reactor reached criticality with a completely new core. A new milestone for SCK•CEN: the first Fast Bismuth Reactor in the world!
Currently, the core of VENUS-F contains a large amount of bismuth (Bi), hence the name full Bi core simulation. This is a unique configuration to examine the nuclear data of bismuth and to compare them with theoretical calculations. So far, nowhere in the world zero power experiments are conducted with so much bismuth. So there are very few data on the properties and behaviour.
"What we do here in VENUS-F is truly a world first!" says project leader Anatoly Kochetkov who outlines the importance of this milestone. "In the first place, the experimental data on bismuth are essential for the further development of MYRRHA, our future research installation which will be cooled with a mixture of lead and bismuth. The nuclear data are necessary in order to make reliable neutronic calculations for the reactor core of MYRRHA and also form the basis for the licensing process of the entire facility."
The new data on bismuth are also of interest to the broader nuclear community in the context of fast reactors and reactivity measurements. The experiments with the new VENUS-F core have been started and will run until the end of 2016.