EU Science Hub

HADES, Underground laboratory for ultra-low level gamma-ray spectrometry (EUFRAT)

Jul 08 2020
Oct 15 2020

JRC operates a laboratory for ultralow-level radioactivity measurements inside the 225 m deep underground laboratory HADES, which is located at the premises of the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre. In HADES, the muon flux (secondary cosmic rays) is a factor of 5000 lower compared to above ground and the flux of protons, neutrons and electrons is reduced to an insignificant level. This reduction of the cosmic ray flux makes the background in gamma-ray spectrometry measurements significantly lower compared to above ground. Therefore it is possible to detect very low amounts of radioactivity (sub mBq range). Eleven specially designed high purity germanium detectors are used for the measurements. There is also a scanning station by which the homogeneity of deadlayers in HPGe-detectors can be studied.


  • Mode:
    Relevance Driven
  • Identifier:
    2020-1-RD- EUFRAT-HADES
  • Location:
    Geel, Belgium
  • Opening of the call:
  • Closure of the call:
  • Communication of the assessment of proposals:


Priority topics of HADES

Ultra low-level gamma-ray spectrometry for:

  1. Characterisation of reference materials for their radioactive content: e.g. materials used for environmental monitoring, food control, radioactive waste management, earth sciences, archaeology, biology, dating, electronics, radioecology...
  2. Tracing processes in nature like ocean currents (input to climate change modelling) and uptake in the food chain.
  3. Tracing anthropogenic activities from nuclear activities.
  4. Radioecological studies
  5. Support to European NORM industry.
  6. Quality control (checking blanks and low-level samples).
  7. Basic physics experiments in astrophysics and neutrino physics (e.g. search for neutrinoless double beta decay and other rare processes).
  8. Material selection and detector testing for underground experiments.
  9. Study and measurements of rare nuclear decays
  10. Testing of detectors and methods for low-level applications
  11. Materials selection for radiopure detectors
  12. Storage and testing of radiopure components
  13. Characterization of HPGe-detectors for deadlayer homogeneity

Definition and conditions of access

Access to the research infrastructure is granted on the basis of Access Units

For HADES, the Access Unit corresponds to a 'Measurement week', i.e. one week of measurement on one of the instruments in HADES. For each approved experiment, HADES will offer the best possible measurement conditions according to the specifications of the users and guaranteeing an optimal data output that is available at the given time.

All users will be requested to complete and deliver safety and security-related documents to get access to the nuclear facilities at HADES. Approval of access is subject to the rules of the European Commission, the Joint Research Centre and the Belgian authorities. Submission of documents should therefore be started in time to allow completion of the approval procedure well before the start of the experiment.

  • Estimated total number of Instrument weeks allocated to the call: 100
  • Average number of Instrument weeks per Project: 20
  • Estimated costs excluding consumables and expenses:
    • Research infrastructure operated by JRC staff: 0 € / Measurement week
    • Research infrastructure operated by users: Not possible

Support of users for travel and subsistence

The JRC may provide a financial or in-kind contribution to support Users to cover their costs of travel and subsistence (T&S) related to the User Stay Days, subject to the availability of funds, personnel and other resources to Users from User Institutions located in an EU Member State or country associated to the Euratom Research Programme (only Switzerland and Ukraine).

A User Stay Day is a day of physical presence of a User at the concerned Research Infrastructure for Access related to the User Access Project. A User Stay Day counts as a registered entry to the JRC site where the Research Infrastructure is located.

  • Estimated total number of User Stay Days for short- term stays eligible for T&S allocated to all EUFRAT calls*: 120
  • Estimated total number of long- term stays (months) eligible for T&S allocated to the EUFRAT calls*: 6


Long term stays are primarily for students and have a duration of at least 1 month. They are typically 3 to 9 months for Karlsruhe, and 1 to 6 months for Petten and Geel.

The Lead User is invited to fill in the User travel and subsistence form and send it to by the closing date of the call. For more information the Lead User may contact the JRC Research Infrastructure at

Allocation of intellectual property rights:

The JRC and the entitled party (person or organisation that has been granted access) become co-owners in equal shares of all raw data, treated data and documentation data developed with respect to the access.

Eligibility criteria

  • The Lead User Institution and User Institutions (see definitions in the Framework) must be from an EU Member State or country associated to the Euratom Research Programme (only Switzerland and Ukraine).
  • The Lead User Institution must be from a university, research or public institution, or from a Small-Medium-Enterprise (SME).
  • Ethical considerations in accordance with EU Law, in particular Art. 19 of Regulation (EU) 1291/2013, and applicable laws and regulations in the EU Member States.

Selection criteria

Proposals will be evaluated in accordance to the following selection criteria:

  • Scientific implementation (50 points)
  • Collaboration and access to new Users (20 points)
  • Strategic relevance to the JRC (15 points)
  • Strategic importance for Europe (15 points)

How to apply

The proposal must be prepared using the Relevance-driven Proposal Submission Form.

For HADES the Lead User must also fill in the EUFRAT (HADES) Facility Specifications Form  following the instructions at the end of the form when submitting the proposal. 

During preparation of the proposal, applicants are encouraged to:

The proposal should be submitted to by the closing date of the call.

The User Selection Committee will only evaluate proposals that are complete and comply with the instructions in the proposal submission form.