Gamma irradiations at SCK•CEN

Our offer

SCK•CEN is operating several gamma irradiation facilities, with gamma dose rates ranging 50-450  Gy/h, 1-8.5 kGy/h* for Co-60 irradiations and 50-1400 Gy/h for spent fuel elements. In both case exposed materials present no radiological danger after the exposure. These facilities allow to cover various application areas dealing with ionizing radiation. We can provide support in preparing radiation qualification and an irradiation experiment design.

*Situation as for 01/02/2020. Co-60 dose rates are decreasing subject natural decay. Spent fuel elements are regularly replaced with recently used.

For dose rates below 1 Gy/h the bunker type irradiation facility LNK can be used.


Irradiation which were performed in the past include (list can be extended) :

  • Materials and components: polymers, joints, optical materials and components, ceramics, liquids
  • Photonics components and materials: optical fibres, sensors, amplifiers
  • Electric and electronic components: motors, sensors, cables
  • Biological materials: cell cultures, plants

    The irradiations can be performed off-line or with on-line electrical and optical (via optical fibers) measurements. Mechanical and/or electrical testing before/after irradiation is possible in other laboratories of SCK-CEN. 

Our equipment

The different facilities have a wide range of possibilities to provide representative, repeatable and reliable tests. These possibilities are:

  • Flexible dose rates
  • Reliable dose measurements; the dose rate is measured with Red/Amber Perspex (PMMA) with accuracy better than 8%
  • Atmosphere control: stagnant or rinsing the samples with dry air, N2, He, Ar, CO2, etc
  • Temperature control: temperature in a range RT up to 250°C; irradiations in liquid nitrogen
  • Online measurement and biasing capabilities; standard instrumentation is available and also the possibility to install your own special instrumentation
  • Irradiations in a dynamic high vacuum atmosphere down to 10-5 mbar (volume ~ 1 l) - currently not operational.

Overview of the facilities



Geuse II



Pos A1&A2

Pos B

Gamma source


Spent fuel



Dose rate (Gy/h)

50 - 450

50 - 1400

200 - 8500

1000 - 8500



Temperature control


Atmosphere control

inert gas, dry air

Vacuum module

on request

no (capsule irradiation)

Available volume


Diameter (mm)





Height (mm)





High dose rate volume with <10% dose-rate variation


Diameter (mm)





Height (mm)





QA programme - Main features

SCK•CEN's BR2 facility is certified for its activities according to the international standard ISO 9001:2008. The irradiations are performed following a Quality Manual (internal reference: QP.BR2.0001).
The QA process includes and applies to the following procedures:

  • Organization and responsibilities
  • Document management system
  • Control of deviations and modifications
  • Registration and control of non-conformities, follow-up of corrective actions
  • Inspections, maintenance, and testing
  • Control and calibration of the test equipment
  • Risk management

A short presentation of the facilities (pdf)

General information on the irradiation facilities

[1] S. Coenen, J. Vermunt, L. Van den Durpel, M. Decréton, and A. Rahn, "Gamma irradiation facilities for assessment of advanced instrumentation - new reactor design and plant life extension increase their need," Research Facilities for the Future of Nuclear Energy, ENS Class 1 Topical Meeting, H. A. Abderrahim, ed., 1996, pp. 382-391.
[2] A. F. Fernandez, H. Ooms, B. Brichard, M. Coeck, S. Coenen, F. Berghmans, and M. Decréton, "SCK-CEN gamma irradiation facilities for radiation tolerance assessment," 2002 Radiation Effects Data Workshop, Reno, 2002, pp. 171-6.
[3] A. F. Fernandez, B. Brichard, H. Ooms, R. Van Nieuwenhove, and F. Berghmans, “Gamma dosimetry using red 4034 Harwell dosimeters in mixed fission neutrons and gamma environments,” IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci., vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 504-9, 2005.
[4] A. Fernandez, B. Brichard, H. Ooms, and F. Berghmans, “High-vacuum gamma irradiation facilities for synergistic effects testing on optoelectronic,” IEEE Trans. Nucl. Sci., vol. 53, no. 06, pp. 1-5, 2006.

Contact: Karel Sebrechts