The GUINEVERE project

The GUINEVERE project (Generator of Uninterrupted Intense Neutrons at the lead Venus REactor) is led in support of researches dedicated to accelerator driven sub-critical reactors or ADS (Accelerator Driven System). It consists in a coupling experiment of a sub-critical reactor mock-up (the VENUS reactor at SCK-CEN, Mol, Belgium) to a 14 MeV neutron source provided by the GENEPI-3C deuteron accelerator (T(d,n) reactions at 220 keV). This coupling, performed at a zero power, allows the study of core kinetics without thermal effects, and in particular to develop and validate a methodolodgy to make the reactivity on-line monitoring of a powerful system during its operation. The thermal power of an ADS is governed by a proportionality relationship with the number of external neutrons injected into the core, and then with the beam intensity sent onto the neutron production target. An accidental reactivity insertion can then be balanced by a decrease of the beam intensity, on condition that the core remains far enough from the criticality. This can be guaranteed only by the on-line monitoring of the sub-criticality level or "reactivity" of the system.  This issue is crucial for the safety of an ADS, in particular in the case it is envisaged for minor actinide incineration. This is the reason why it is a subject of a huge experimental effort since several years. The GUINEVERE project is a follow-up of the MUSE experiment (achieved in EURATOM FP5) and is built on its conclusions, aiming at validating a complete methodolodgy in a core as close as possible of the one of a powerful ADS, and then making as far as possible its transposition to a true powerful system.

Visit of the GUINEVERE facility

The FREYA project

At the end of the EUROTRANS integrated project, new projects were launched in EURATOM FP7 to investigate special issues required by the making of an ADS demonstrator. Promoting such a project (the MYRRHA project) since the 90's, SCK-CEN received in 2010 an agreement from the Belgian government to support a pre-project phase (the « Front End Engineering Design », FEED, and also the licensing procedure) to be expertised in 2014. The reactor of the MYRRHA project is not only foreseen to be an accelerator driven sub-critical reactor but also a multipurpose irradiation facility to replace, in the future, the Belgian BR2 reactor. It will be operated both in critical or sub-critical configuration, and in this latter case it will be fed by a 600 MeV proton accelerator coupled to a spallation target, and will be loaded with a MOX fuel in a liquid lead-bismuth coolant. 

Several FP7 European projects support the MYRRHA project (CDT, MAX,…). The experimental project GUINEVERE, with addtional objectives related to the MYRRHA critical configuration is still running in the FP7 FREYA project (Fast Reactor Experiments for hYbrid Applications), led by SCK-CEN (2011-2016). It consists of five Work Packages :

-          WP1: ADS on-line reactivity monitoring methodologies

-          WP2: Subcritical configurations for design and licensing of MYRRHA/FASTEF

-          WP3: Critical configurations for design and licensing of MYRRHA/FASTEF

-          WP4: Critical configurations for Lead Fast Reactor

-          WP5: Training and Education

The LPSC is in charge of the WP1 coordination which gathers the initial GUINEVERE objectives and some new extensions.