France and Belgium to study transmutation

23 February 2005

An alliance between France's national centre of scientific research (CNRS) and the Belgian centre for atomic energy studies (SCKoCEN) is to develop a prototype nuclear reactor for the study of transmutation of radioactive waste.

Within the context of the European Myrrha project, construction of the prototype should begin towards the end of 2011 and aims to achieve a first global demonstration of a new category of Accelerator Driven Systems. These so-called sub-critical systems are controlled by an external source of neutrons, consisting of a high power proton accelerator and a target. Proton bombardment leads to the fission of target cores generating neutrons to drive the reactor. This system should also permit the transmutation of long-life radioactive isotopes into short-life or stable isotopes, opening the door to a new treatment for radioactive waste.

SCKoCEN will manage the development of the reactor and the target with CNRS responsible for the accelerator.

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