SCK•CEN's contribution to fusion technology

SCK•CEN articulates its fusion technology contribution towards one of the crucial questions for the fusion technological development: How do materials and equipment behave in severe radiation fields?

This involves materials for first wall, vessel assembly and blanket, but is also extended to the radiation hardness of instrumentation components used for diagnostics and remote maintenance. This main fusion involvement is complemented by specific studies on environmental issues, in particular related to waste management, and to a few socio-economic aspects of future fusion energy production.

To perform its work, SCK•CEN relies on its core competences and available facilities, usually originated from its main involvement in fission reactor technology:

  • Irradiation capabilities
  • Research in radiation effects on materials and instrumentation
  • On-going programmes in dismantling and waste disposal
  • Involvement in the design of an accelerator-driven spallation-source reactor: MYRRHA 

The fusion activities are driven by and put in synergy with these strong poles.

The main goal of evaluating the effects of radiation on materials and instrumentation is tackled in a comprehensive way, taking full use of all available facilities: the BR2 materials testing reactor of course, but also a wide range of fully equipped hot cells, a variety of gamma sources, specialised laboratories for tritium and beryllium handling.

The quality of this involvement is recognised by a co-ordination role played for performance tests of new steels under radiation, for radiation hardening of instrumentation and for tritium management.

SCK•CEN covers approximately one half of the Belgian contribution to the European fusion programme, in complement to the plasma physics research conducted at KMS/ERM and ULB. The Belgian contribution involves also the industrial participation of Belgatom through EFET and an industrial contact cell has been created in 2007. The SCK•CEN involvement encompasses moreover the participation of an additional fusion associate partner: the GRADEL company in Luxemburg active in remote handling equipment fabrication.

Main fusion research activities

Radiation effects on fusion materials

Vessel and in-vessel materials for ITER: beryllium, copper, tungsten

  • Plasma wall interaction (PWI) studies on these materials
  • Quality assurance testing of the tiles to be used for the JET ITER-like wall
  • A plasmatron testing machine is being installed for PWI studies
  • In-situ assessment of the mechanical performance and lifetime of copper alloys
  • Analysing copper-steel and copper-beryllium joints under radiation

Displacement cascade in pure iron

Reduced activation ferritic martensitic steel Eurofer97

  • Post-irradiation examination of irradiated Eurofer97 joints as well as of oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) steels
  • Irradiation campaign of the new reference ODS steel
  • Corrosion tests for irradiated Eurofer97 joints in liquid lithium-lead
  • Modelling of irradiation effects in the binary alloy Fe-Cr (as a model alloy for Eurofer97)

Radiation effects on instrumentation

Mounted bolometerPhysics integration: Radiation effects on diagnostics systems

  • Evaluating the performance of optical fibres for infra-red thermography
  • In-situ the resistance of radiation hardened bolometers
  • Initial evaluation of current sensing using optical fibres
  • Radiation and thermal effects in mineral insulated cables
  • Window assemblies under representative radiation and temperature
  • Radiation effect on generic glass-metal bonding theoretical approach
  • Development of a database for the radiation effects on diagnostic components

Vessel-In-Vessel: Radiation effects on remote handling sensing systems

  • Large scale radiation assessment campaign for DC motors, solenoid and servo valves, pressure gauges and pre-amplifier for the DTP2
  • Development of radiation hardened electronic integrated circuits

Waste management

  • Detritiation of JET-type molecular sieve beds
  • Detritiation of high heat flux components of ITER
  • Review of the decontamination procedures
  • Large scale waste processing unit for JET


  • Evaluation of communication aspects, related to the ITER construction in the Cadarache area

Scientific output

During the period October 2006 – October 2007, more than seventy documents were published: i.e. 42 papers in journals, 36 presentations at international conferences, 44 task reports, 4 BSc, 2 MSc and 2 PhD theses. SCK•CEN presented fusion related papers to several international conferences, with in particular a strong presence at SOFT (Warsaw, September 2006, 12 papers), PFMC (Greifswald, October 2006, 3 papers), ITER-LMJ (Aix en Provence, June 2007, 3 papers), Euromat (Nuremberg, September 2007, 2 papers), ISFNT (Heidelberg, September 2007, 2 papers), BEWS (Lisbon, December 2007, 3 papers), and ICFRM (Nice, December 2007, 7 papers). SCK•CEN attended also the ITPA on Diagnostics meetings in Princeton (March 2007).

All scienfitific output on SCK•CEN's fusion research can be found in our Institutional Repository.

Education & Training

SCK•CEN is an Associate Member of the Erasmus Mundus fusion programme.

SCK•CEN insures a set of lectures on fusion in Belgian universities, in particular for the European Erasmus-Mundus Master in Nuclear Fusion Science and Engineering Physics, and organises in Mol the interuniversity "Master of Nuclear Engineering" teaching under the framework of the Belgian Nuclear Higher Education Network (BNEN), with fusion as part of the curriculum.

In 2007 a participation in the European fusion training scheme for young scientists has been launched, inside the consortium related to first wall components, together with CEA, FZJ, ENEA and IPP.


Assessment of the Effects of Neutron Irradiation on the Mechanical Properties of Eurofer-97 Ferritic/Martensitic Steel
R. Chaouadi
Reactor Materials Research
November, 2005

Flow and Fracture Behavior of 9%Cr-Ferritic/Martensitic Steels
R. Chaouadi
March, 2005

Radiation Effects on the Mechanical Properties of Beryllium
R. Chaouadi, A. Leenaers, J.L. Puzzolante and M. Scibetta
April, 2000

Irradiation Creep Inducing Stress Relaxation of Precipitation Hardened Inconel 718 Exposed to 0.5 dpa at 300°C
R. Chaouadi, M. Scibetta, R. Van Nieuwenhove, B. Smolders, M. Weber and M. Willekens
April, 2000 

Tensile and Low Cycle Fatigue Properties of Solution Annealed Type 316L Stainless Steel Plate and TIG Weld Exposed to 5 dpa at Low Temperature (42 °C)
J.-L. Puzzolante, M. Scibetta, R. Chaouadi, W. Vandermeulen
September, 1999 

Tensile and Fracture Toughness Test Results of Neutron Irradiated Beryllium
R. Chaouadi, F. Moons and J.L. Puzzolante
December, 1997

Contact: Massaut Vincent