Reactor Institute Delft


The Reactor Institute Delft is the Dutch centre for scientific research and education in reactor physics, neutron and positron radiation, radiation detection and radiochemistry. Much of the research focuses on medical applications, such as the production of medical isotopes and the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It also develops new materials for renewable energy such as solar cells and batteries, and works on the nuclear reactors of the future. The institute is also the body in the Netherlands that trains people to work with radiation.


Space exploration

Nuclear technology is indispensable for space exploration. The most common application of nuclear technology is the utilisation of heat released during the radioactive decay of isotopes. The decay heat is used to keep delicate instruments at temperature. These would otherwise not last long in cold space (-230 °C). In fact, most electronics function reliably down to only -55 °C.

Recently, NASA even announced that it will work on a nuclear thermal rocket engine. “NASA will work with our long-term partner DARPA to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear thermal propulsion technology starting in 2027. Using this new technology, astronauts can travel to and from deep space faster than ever before – a key opportunity to prepare manned missions to Mars,” NASA said.

image: ©NASA