The JRC is by far the largest provider of neutron data in the European Union. The data is generated by measurements at its two large-scale particle accelerators, and is used for the safe operation of nuclear reactors, handling of nuclear waste and investigating next-generation reactor systems and fuel cycles. The main users of this nuclear data are European safety authorities, the nuclear industry and the nuclear research community.
Interaction of neutrons with matter is of great importance when evaluating the safety and risks related to operation of nuclear power plants, nuclear waste management, or new concepts of nuclear power production.
Databases of neutron-induced reaction cross sections are maintained by the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The NEA databank maintains a high-priority request list of the most important nuclear data requirements. In particular, the Joint Evaluated Fission and Fusion (JEFF) project of evaluated neutron data maintains a comprehensive database for routine applications in various areas of science and technology.
The JRC makes invaluable contributions to these databases through measurements of neutron cross-sections of the relevant nuclei. The measurements are carried out using specialised infrastructure. The JRC operates a 150 MeV linear electron accelerator GELINA and a 7 MV light-ion Van de Graaff accelerator. The JRC's two accelerators are complementary in their performance and are among the best such installations in the world. By reducing the uncertainty in neutron cross-section data, the JRC's data ultimately lead to increased safety of the current and future plants.