It’s not difficult to guess that it was named after Maria Skłodowska-Curie. This nuclear reactor was designed and constructed entirely by Polish engineers. In 1974 MARIA reached its first criticality. Soon it took over the duties of radioisotope production from the first nuclear research reactor in Poland, EWA, which was launched in 1958 and served the irradiation of radioisotopes until 1995. MARIA was modernized significantly in the 1980s and is continuously upgraded, keeping up with the regulatory requirements. Today MARIA belongs to the busiest research reactors worldwide and the radioisotopes produced here serve millions of patients.
Did you know that in 2010 MARIA reactor started the irradiation of uranium for production of Molybdenum-99, the parent radionuclide of Technetium-99m? Since then MARIA plays an important role in the global supply chain of medical radioisotopes.
As TNA2 facility, MARIA will produce Tb-161 for PRISMAP users; other radioisotopes of potential interest are Lu-177, Ho-166, Sm-153, I-131, Sc-47 and more.
The high flux research reactor MARIA is a water and beryllium moderated reactor of a pool type with graphite reflector and pressurized channels containing concentric six-tube assemblies of fuel elements. It has been designed to provide high degree of flexibility. The fuel channels are situated in a matrix containing beryllium blocks and enclosed by lateral reflector made of graphite blocks in aluminum cans. MARIA is equipped with vertical channels for irradiation of target materials, a rabbit system for short irradiations and six horizontal neutron beam channels.
The neutron-thermal characteristics for the research channels:
Neutron irradiation services provided at the MARIA research reactor are mainly related to the radioisotope production, other research activities such as testing of fuel and structural materials for nuclear power engineering, neutron radiography, neutron activation analysis, neutron transmutation doping are also carried out. MARIA is also involved in education and training of young researchers, so it is a pity that the access to these facilities had to be stopped due to covid pandemic.
More can be found at: The MARIA research reactor | National Centre for Nuclear Research (ncbj.gov.pl)