MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio--Beryllium components supplied by Materion Performance Alloys and Composites, a Materion Corporation (NYSE:MTRN) business, are helping Belgium’s BR2 nuclear test reactor continue operation and contribute to the world’s supply of radiopharmaceuticals.
In 2013, Belgium’s nuclear research center, SCK•CEN, enlisted Materion to facilitate the production and fabrication of beryllium irradiation channels required for the 55-year-old reactor’s retrofit project. Launched in 2014, the successful two-year project was completed on June 1, 2016 as the reactor became fully operational once again.
The BR2 reactor plays an important role in producing materials for nuclear medicine and accounts for nearly one quarter of the world’s production of radiopharmaceuticals used for medical nuclear imaging.
Materion’s beryllium rods and reflectors were needed to refurbish critical components in the BR2. These components are used in many test reactors because beryllium, with its low atomic number and weight, is the most efficient neutron donor of any metallic element. In order to function, nuclear reactors need a concentration of neutrons in the core, which are created by the uranium in the nuclear fuel, but at an energy which is not useful for the reactor. Beryllium is capable of reducing the neutron energy and multiplies the neutrons so the compact reactor core keeps running. These unique properties make beryllium the material of choice for nuclear test components at the heart of research reactors.
“BR2 is a major supplier of radioisotopes and the global medical community relies heavily on its production to diagnose and treat cancer as well as many other medical conditions,” said W. Glenn Maxwell, President, Materion Performance Alloys and Composites. “It was essential that we produced high quality materials and delivered them on time to SCK•CEN so they could keep supply available to meet demand.”
According to the World Nuclear Association, the global nuclear medical market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6% by 2022.
“This is an important market to serve and we’re happy we can contribute to global medical needs with our materials in the nuclear field,” said Maxwell.
Beyond SCK•CEN, Materion supplies a number of nuclear test reactors, both for materials research and medical isotope production. New applications, refurbishments and upgrades to other reactors are scheduled over this year and into 2017, including the RP-10 Reactor in Peru.
Materion Corporation is headquartered in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Through its businesses, Materion supplies worldwide markets with alloy products, beryllium products, electronic products, precious metal products, and engineered material systems. Around the world, the company's engineered materials can be found in technically demanding end-use products within the telecommunications and computer, automotive electronics, appliance, industrial components, plastics tooling, optical media, oil and gas, aerospace and defense, and off-highway and mining equipment markets. Visit http://www.Materion.com for more information.