Operation of the BER II research reactor ends on 11 December 2019

A view into the core of the BER II reactor.

A view into the core of the BER II reactor. © HZB

After 46 years of successful research with neutrons, the operation of the Berlin research reactor BER II ends on 11 December 2019. This date was announced by the HZB Supervisory Board on 25 June 2013. The early announcement has enabled the HZB to focus its profile on research into energy materials and the further development of the electron storage ring BESSY II. The BER II is to be dismantled over the next few years.

An era is coming to an end

For 46 years, research with neutrons has shaped the face of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin in Wannsee. The BER II research reactor supplied neutrons with which researchers can examine materials, their structure and their properties. This era has ended on 11 December 2019.

Every year, around 140 publications in renowned peer reviewed journals based on the experiments at BER II have been published. The scientific excellence of the research at BER II has been repeatedly highlighted by international evaluations.

The BER II was in great demand until the end: Over 600 visits by guest researchers from Germany and abroad took place in the year of the shutdown. They came from many different disciplines, including chemistry and physics, but also biology, medicine and archaeology. This gave rise to a very international and inspiring working environment in Berlin-Wannsee.

"We would like to thank all the people who have contributed to the excellent international level of neutron research in Berlin-Wannsee over decades," says Prof. Dr. Jan Lüning, Scientific Director of the HZB.

Now comes the dismantling of the BER II

In April 2017, HZB filed an application for the decommissioning and dismantling of BER II, which initiated the extensive approval procedure. In order to facilitate early public participation, HZB offers interested citizens the opportunity to participate in a dialogue group that meets regularly and accompanies the decommissioning process.

After December 11, 2019, the so-called post-operational phase of BER II begins. Decommissioning will begin after the authorities have granted decommissioning and dismantling permits; this is planned for 2023.

New Focus: Energy Materials and Synchrotron BESSY II

In the scientific community, the HZB now presents itself with a profile that focuses on soft X-rays and energy materials. The Centre has invested in promising research topics of high societal relevance. These include photovoltaic materials, but also material systems for innovative energy storage and materials that can convert sunlight directly into chemical fuels or lay the foundations for more energy-efficient information technology.

For these research questions, the synchrotron radiation source BESSY II in Berlin-Adlershof offers a variety of state-of-the-art methods. In order to remain an international leader, HZB is currently developing a concept for BESSY III, the successor synchrotron source to be built in Berlin-Adlershof.