SCK•CEN Highlights 2017 |
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Highlights

2017

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Foreword

Pushing the boundaries for society

A small lump in the neck, nothing more. Cancer, according to the diagnosis. More than 65,000 Belgians are diagnosed with cancer every year. This figure is expected to increase to some 80,000 by 2025. This means that an average of 200 people will be receiving bad news every day.

We are proud that our centre can play a role in the fight against cancer. In 2017, we made greater strides than ever before. On the one hand, we met the global demand for medical radioisotopes, increase the radiation capacity and produced other radioisotopes. On the other hand, we made the MYRRHA research installation concrete. In the future, MYRRHA will contribute to producing of new radioisotopes and to developing less-invasive cancer treatments.

2017 was also the year in which we pushed boundaries for undertaking new challenges. In Belgium and abroad. On earth and in space. In short: 2017 was a year of dreams and breakthroughs.

Eric van Walle,
Directeur-generaal van het SCK•CEN

Foreword

Pushing the boundaries for society

A small lump in the neck, nothing more. Cancer, according to the diagnosis. More than 65,000 Belgians are diagnosed with cancer every year. This figure is expected to increase to some 80,000 by 2025. This means that an average of 200 people will be receiving bad news every day.

We are proud that our centre can play a role in the fight against cancer. In 2017, we made greater strides than ever before. On the one hand, we met the global demand for medical radioisotopes, increase the radiation capacity and produced other radioisotopes. On the other hand, we made the MYRRHA research installation concrete. In the future, MYRRHA will contribute to producing of new radioisotopes and to developing less-invasive cancer treatments.

2017 was also the year in which we pushed boundaries for undertaking new challenges. In Belgium and abroad. On earth and in space. In short: 2017 was a year of dreams and breakthroughs.

Eric van Walle,
Directeur-generaal
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From dream to breakthrough

Reinventing ourselves continuously

In 2017, more than ever before, we made efforts to help nuclear medicine move forward. We produced more than 25% – and at peak times up to 65% – of the global demand for the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99, which is used in approximately 30 million diagnostic tests each year. We tripled lutetium-177 production and started producing yttrium-90 to fight against liver cancer. Society is also at the heart of our collaborations.

SCK•CEN entered into a partnership with start-up ANMI in Liège (Belgium), which has developed a toolkit for diagnosing prostate cancer and is about to launch it on the market. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) commended us for our impressive efforts in nuclear medicine. These efforts, combined with our many years of expertise and our unique research infrastructures, resulted in us being awarded the prestigious label International Centre based on Research Reactor (ICERR). With this label, the IAEA member states are given access to research facilities in order to help them develop their nuclear science and technology programs.

MYRRHA gains impetus

2017 was intense in terms of preparation for the MYRRHA team. Eleven reports, studies and detailed documents – the so-called High Level Deliverables– had to be submitted to the Belgian government so that the project could take the next step. Mission accomplished in good time! MYRRHA comes with a fully developed business plan and a financial plan running until 2067. The plan submitted to the Belgian Government’s Monitoring Committee was also successfully presented to a large number of potential investors.

The ambitious MYRRHA project, which is also a technological and human challenge, is now entering a decisive phase: the construction of the particle accelerator which will drive the future reactor of the multi-purpose research infrastructure. During the first phase, we will build the “MINERVA” facility which will be made of the first part of the MYRRHA accelerator up to 100 MeV and its target stations aiming at fundamental and applied research as well as medical applications.

From dream to breakthrough

Reinventing ourselves continuously

In 2017, more than ever before, we made efforts to help nuclear medicine move forward. We produced more than 25% – and at peak times up to 65% – of the global demand for the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99, which is used in approximately 30 million diagnostic tests each year. We tripled lutetium-177 production and started producing yttrium-90 to fight against liver cancer. Society is also at the heart of our collaborations.

SCK•CEN entered into a partnership with start-up ANMI in Liège (Belgium), which has developed a toolkit for diagnosing prostate cancer and is about to launch it on the market. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) commended us for our impressive efforts in nuclear medicine. These efforts, combined with our many years of expertise and our unique research infrastructures, resulted in us being awarded the prestigious label International Centre based on Research Reactor (ICERR). With this label, the IAEA member states are given access to research facilities in order to help them develop their nuclear science and technology programs.

MYRRHA gains impetus

2017 was intense in terms of preparation for the MYRRHA team. Eleven reports, studies and detailed documents – the so-called High Level Deliverables– had to be submitted to the Belgian government so that the project could take the next step. Mission accomplished in good time! MYRRHA comes with a fully developed business plan and a financial plan running until 2067. The plan submitted to the Belgian Government’s Monitoring Committee was also successfully presented to a large number of potential investors.

The ambitious MYRRHA project, which is also a technological and human challenge, is now entering a decisive phase: the construction of the particle accelerator which will drive the future reactor of the multi-purpose research infrastructure. During the first phase, we will build the “MINERVA” facility which will be made of the first part of the MYRRHA accelerator up to 100 MeV and its target stations aiming at fundamental and applied research as well as medical applications.

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The challenges that MYRRHA rose to, whether in the management of high-level nuclear waste or innovation in nuclear medicine, make it a real hub for international R&D.

PETER BAETEN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL

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Diving into outer space

Discovery. If we had to sum 2017 up with just a few words, then ‘discovery’ would be one of them without any doubt. SCK•CEN’s scientists travelled all over the world in the name of science. Radiobiologist, Sarah Baatout braved the cold temperatures and insidious winds of Antarctica. The aim was to investigate the impact of extreme conditions on the immune system and, in doing so, simulate the living conditions of astronauts on space travel.

Our space research reached its peak last year. And that peak should be taken literally, because, in December, SCK•CEN sent the very first bioreactor into space. SCK•CEN also built a new type of antineutrinos detector to track down sterile neutrinos. The discovery of a new kind of neutrino can radically change our vision of the universe and give us more insight into dark matter.

At the forefront of progress

In 2017, SCK•CEN made rapid technological progress, including the development of a practical eye lens dosimeter. The prototype takes into account the complex radiation field and, in contrast to the models commercialized since 2011, can be used in combination with lead spectacles. It is now being tested by interventional cardiologists, who, according to our European study EURALOC, are at greater risk of developing cataracts.

To measure is to know, but it is also necessary, especially in emergency situations, to predict the spread of radioactive particles and to be able to determine the source location. Is a high concentration caused by nuclear tests or conventional explosives? SCK•CEN developed a method to calculate the source location. The model was used at the end of last year to analyse the presence of ruthenium-106 in Europe. Finally, we also successfully irradiated the very first MYRRHA fuel pin.

Diving into outer space

Discovery. If we had to sum 2017 up with just a few words, then ‘discovery’ would be one of them without any doubt. SCK•CEN’s scientists travelled all over the world in the name of science. Radiobiologist, Sarah Baatout braved the cold temperatures and insidious winds of Antarctica. The aim was to investigate the impact of extreme conditions on the immune system and, in doing so, simulate the living conditions of astronauts on space travel.

Our space research reached its peak last year. And that peak should be taken literally, because, in December, SCK•CEN sent the very first bioreactor into space. SCK•CEN also built a new type of antineutrinos detector to track down sterile neutrinos. The discovery of a new kind of neutrino can radically change our vision of the universe and give us more insight into dark matter.

At the forefront of progress

In 2017, SCK•CEN made rapid technological progress, including the development of a practical eye lens dosimeter. The prototype takes into account the complex radiation field and, in contrast to the models commercialized since 2011, can be used in combination with lead spectacles. It is now being tested by interventional cardiologists, who, according to our European study EURALOC, are at greater risk of developing cataracts.

To measure is to know, but it is also necessary, especially in emergency situations, to predict the spread of radioactive particles and to be able to determine the source location. Is a high concentration caused by nuclear tests or conventional explosives? SCK•CEN developed a method to calculate the source location. The model was used at the end of last year to analyse the presence of ruthenium-106 in Europe. Finally, we also successfully irradiated the very first MYRRHA fuel pin.

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More than ever, there is a need to communicate on the numerous assets offered by nuclear science and its diverse applications, from energy to medicine, including the environment.

CHRISTIAN LEGRAIN, SECRETARY-GENERAL

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Key figures

Income

45%
49%
5%
1%
1%
  • Turnover

  • Subsidies from government and grants

  • Other

  • Financial income

  • Extraordinary income

Charges

51%
38%
5%
6%
  • Personnel costs

  • Purchases and services

  • Provisions

  • Depreciation

820

Employees

87

PHD Students

46

Nationalities

837

Scientific publications & Presentations

57

Actief in landen

35%

Met een Academische graad