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The MAX Project



The MAX project ensues from the recommendations of the European Union’s Strategic Energy Technology Plan for the development and deployment of sustainable nuclear fission technologies in Europe.

MAX will participate in addressing the issue of high‐level long‐lived radioactive waste transmutation by pursuing the development of the high‐power proton accelerator as specified by the MYRRHA Accelerator‐Driven System (ADS) demonstrator project in Belgium.

1. Nature and scope of the project

MYRRHA (“Multi‐purpose Hybrid Research reactor for High‐tech Applications”) is a new flexible fast spectrum research reactor that is planned to be operational around 2023 in SCK●CEN Mol (Belgium). Composed of a proton accelerator, a spallation target and a 100 MWth core cooled by liquid lead‐bismuth, it is especially designed to demonstrate the feasibility of the ADS concept in view of high‐level waste transmutation.

To feed its sub‐critical core with an external neutron source, the MYRRHA facility requires a powerful proton accelerator (600 MeV, 4 mA) operating in continuous mode, and above all featuring a very limited number of unforeseen beam interruptions. The MAX team, made up of accelerator and reliability experts from industries, universities and research organizations, has been set up to respond to these very specific twofold specifications.

2. Activities

The conceptual design of the ADS‐type proton accelerator has been initiated during previous EURATOM Framework Programmes (PDS‐XADS and EUROTRANS projects). It is a LINAC based (LINear ACcelerator) solution that brings excellent electric efficiency thanks to the use of superconductivity and high potential for reliability by the use of several redundancy schemes.

The MAX team will pursue the R&D on this ADS‐type accelerator, specifically focusing on the MYRRHA case. Developments and experiments on accelerator test sections will be performed to increase the level of confidence in the fact that the MYRRHA requirements will be fulfilled. On top of these activities, dedicated studies and simulations on general accelerator design and reliability issues will be carried out.

The MAX website will be used to disseminate all non‐confidential results to the general public, and to inform about important events of general interest related to the project (workshops, seminars, schools…). Organisation of training seminars and schools, communication of results at international conferences and publications in peer‐reviewed journals will be encouraged by the MAX Project Coordination Committee.


3. Expected results

The ADS accelerator conceptual scheme is shown in Figure 1. The main goal of the MAX project is to deliver an updated consolidated reference layout of the MYRRHA LINAC with sufficient detail and adequate level of confidence in order to initiate in 2015 its engineering design and subsequent construction phase.

To reach this goal, advanced beam simulation activities will be undertaken and a detailed design of the major accelerating components will be carried out, building on several prototyping activities.

A strong focus will be put on all the aspects that pertain to the reliability and availability of this accelerator, since the number of beam interruptions longer than three seconds has to be minimized. Such frequently‐repeated beam interruptions could indeed induce high thermal stresses and fatigue on the reactor structures, the target or the fuel elements, with possible significant damages especially to the fuel claddings.

In this context, the MAX team expects to develop an accurate reliability model of the MYRRHA accelerator by using the methodology applied for nuclear power plants. On the other hand it is foreseen to experimentally prove the feasibility of the innovative “fault‐tolerance” redundancy scheme, by making extensive use of the prototypic accelerating module developed during the previous FP6 EUROTRANS programme.


4. Societal impact

By supporting the MYRRHA Accelerator Driven System demonstrator project, MAX addresses the need to find sustainable ways of managing high‐level, long‐lived radioactive wastes. Transmuting them into less toxic shorter‐lived elements would reduce the amount and heat load of radiotoxic material going into deep geological repositories and keep their lifespan to manageable timescales.

The demonstration of the ADS concept in MYRRHA will allow the EURATOM community to extrapolate to the design of an industrial waste burner and evaluate the viability of concentrated transmutation in a double‐strata fuel‐cycle approach. This extrapolation exercise will be especially valid for the accelerator, since its concept remains identical when going from demonstrator to industrial scales.

Finally, the MAX project outcome in terms of reliability and availability optimisation should also bring substantial impact for all emerging and future accelerator projects featuring high power proton beams.


Project information

Website address: http://ipnweb.in2p3.fr/MAX/
Project type (funding instrument): Small or medium‐scale focused research collaborative project (CP‐FP)
Project start date: 01/02/2011
Duration: 42 months
Total budget: EUR 4 869 256
EC contribution: EUR 2 926 199

EC project officer:
European Commission
Directorate‐General for Research
Directorate Energy (Euratom)
Unit J.2 – Fission
21, rue du Champ de Mars
CDMA 01/046
B‐1049 Brussels, Belgium
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
Institut de Physique Nucléaire d’Orsay (UMR 8608)
15 rue Georges Clémenceau, Bat. 106
91406 Orsay Cedex, France
Tel: +33 1 69 15 79 30
Fax: + 33 1 69 15 77 35
Email : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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