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1st semester 2012 scientific news




An IRSN PhD student is awarded the Jean Bourgeois Prize for her thesis

Isabel Idarraga, who completed her PhD thesis in IRSN, has received on the 18th June in Paris the Jean Bourgeois Prize awarded by SFEN (French Nuclear Energy Society). Her thesis, submitted in 2011, concerned the “Étude des mécanismes de dégradation sous air à haute température des gaines de combustible nucléaire en alliage de zirconium” (Study of the degradation mechanisms of zirconium alloy nuclear fuel claddings in air at high-temperature). The Jean Bourgeois Prize is awarded for scientific work relating to nuclear energy, having implications in the field of the safety of nuclear facilities.

 Find out more on Isabel Idarraga’s thesis
 Find out more on LE2M
 SFEN website



IRSN organizes the PHEBUS FP final seminar


IRSN and the Institute for Energy and Transport (IET) of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (EC/JRC) organize the final seminar of the PHEBUS FP on severe accidents from 13 to 15 June 2012 in Aix-en-Provence (France). This programme was launched in 1988 by IRSN, in collaboration with the European Commission and EDF. The objective was to conduct integral experiments that simulate as closely as possible the phenomena that can occur in a damaged light water nuclear reactor. This 6th and final seminar focuses on the lessons learned from the 5 tests, such as core degradation, fission product release as well as iodine chemistry.


 2012 PHEBUS FP seminar website 

 To find out more about the research programme



Caroline Rouas wins the ED425 PhD thesis prize
Caroline Rouas, who successfully completed her PhD thesis in October 2010, has been awarded the ED425 (Doctoral School 425 of the University of Paris XI in Chatenay-Malabry) thesis prize, a distinction for 2011 PhD theses, within the Pharmacology-Toxicology unit. Her thesis is on the “Study of the mechanisms involved during exposure to depleted uranium on the detoxification system in vivo and in vitro” under the joint supervision of Marc Pallardy (Inserm U996) and Yann Guéguen (LRTOX of IRSN). During the hand over of this prize, her original work was in particular underlined by the publication of four articles as first author during the thesis, including one in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.


 Read the article in Chemical Research in Toxicology
 To find out more on Caroline Rouas’ thesis
 To find out more on LRTOX 




IRSN, organiser of the Prisme seminar


The last seminar of the Prisme international research programme, run by IRSN from 2006 to 2011 under the auspices of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), will be held on 30 May 2012 at Aix-en-Provence. This programme focuses on the experimental and analytical study of fire behaviour at nuclear facilities characterised by being confined and ventilated. The experimental data obtained from 35 experiments conducted during this project have allowed us to make substantial progress in the validation of fire simulation software in a layout that is specific to the nuclear environment. The seminar, organised by IRSN and sponsored by the CSIN (Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations) of the OECD will give us an opportunity to conduct a review of the results obtained during the last five years and assess the ensuing impact that this enhanced knowledge will have on improved safety management at these facilities regarding fire risk. It will also allow us to take stock of the objectives pertaining to the 2nd phase of the programme launched in July 2011, also under the auspices of the OECD and which will last 5 years.

 Prisme Seminar Programme (PDF in English)
 Learn more about the LEF




An IRSN researcher awarded the Young Professionals Prize at IRPA13


Out of 18 candidates, Jad Farah won first place at the "Young Professionals Prize" for his thesis work carried out at IRSN. He was chosen to represent France at the 13th IRPA Congress held in Glasgow from 13 to 18 May 2012. The prize is awarded to the best presentation given by a researcher with less than 10 years' experience in the field of radiation protection and who has distinguished him or herself for the scientific quality of research undertaken, as well as for his or her article and oral skills. His publication covered the development of a library of Mesh and NURBS female phantoms for pulmonary in vivo body counting studies. Last October, Jad Farah defended his thesis entitled "Improvements to customised in vivo body counting using the Monte Carlo calculation method: optimising the calculation time and counting methodology for establishing the distribution of activity".

 Find out more about Jad Farah's thesis

 Find out more about Ledi
 See Jad Farah's presentation at IRPA13 (PDF)

 Read Jad Farah's award-winning publication (PDF)




IRSN involved in Eccorev's "Flood Risk" Day


The research federation Eccorev (continental ecosystems and environmental risks) has organised an event called "Risk and Flooding" for 22 June in Aix-en-Provence. The event will host ten presentations dealing with issues of flood risk, hydrology and rising water levels in the Rhone to the economics of flood risk, as well as the sociology of floods and the urbanization of areas vulnerable to flooding. IRSN is taking part in this programme by virtue of its partnership with the Federation and will bring to bear its knowledge and skills in terms of biogeochemistry, modelling, as well as evaluation of seismic risk and environmental radionuclide ecotoxicology. Eric Chojnacki from Limar (IRSN's laboratory of uncertainty analysis and cooling accident modelling) is leader of the Risk multidisciplinary research line within the federation and has co-organised the event with Aurélie Arnaud, a member of Lieu (Interdisciplinary Laboratory in Urbanism). The federation brings together 39 laboratories from 17 different establishments (CNRS, CEA, IRSN, Irstea, Ineris, Inra, etc.).

 Programme for the day
 IRSN and the Eccorev Federation
 Contact IRSN, Eric Chojnacki




IRSN Participates in the 13th International Congress of the IRPA


The International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) is currently holding its 13th International Congress in Glasgow from 13 to 18 May.  This edition is focused primarily on the societal aspect of risk management and stresses the fact that successful protection against radiation must always include choices and decisions made at a social level. Emphasis was put on the importance of an active and structured dialogue with the parties involved, which add a supplementary insight to scientific expertise.  IRSN plays a major role in the congress, especially by participating in the planning committee. The Institute will also conduct a technical session on epidemiology and will participate in a dozen other technical sessions relating to crisis management (e.g. Fukushima), medical uses of ionising radiation (in interventional radiology, cardiovascular radiotherapy, etc.), exposure to radon, among others. It will also present more than thirty posters showcasing each of these major themes.  
 Full programme (PDF)




An IRSN PhD student has been awarded 2nd prize in the “3 minute thesis” competition

Morgan Dutilleul, who is studying for his PhD in biology at the Ecotoxicology and Radionuclides Laboratory (LECO) of IRSN, has won 2nd prize in the final of the 3MT – 3 minute thesis – competition at the 80th ACFAS (Francophone Association for Knowledge) Congress. The competition was broadcast during France Inter’s programme “La Tête au Carré”.
Within the space of three minutes, the students have to present their dissertation or thesis project to an uninitiated and unlit audience. The aim of the exercise is to allow them to perfect their skills at explicitly communicating on the nature of their research work. The first 3MT was held in Australia (Queensland University) in 2008. Since then, some thirty or so 3MT competitions have been held in different universities throughout the world.
Morgan Dutilleul is currently finalising his PhD at the Department of Biological Sciences, UQAM (Canada), within the framework of a joint trusteeship agreement between IRSN, UQAM and Montpellier University. Before participating in the final of the competition, he had been selected by an internal jury to represent UQAM, with another student from the same university, Marie-Christine Bellemare.

 See the video of Morgan Dutilleul’s 3 minute presentation

 Listen to the podcast of the programme broadcast on Thursday 10th May 2012 at 2pm on France Inter
 To find out more on Morgan Dutilleul’s thesis

 To find out more on LECO (ex-LRE)



First announcement of NEUDOS12


The IRSN organises from 3rd to 7th june 2013 in Aix-en-Provence (France) the NEUDOS12 symposium (Neutron and Ion dosimetry) in cooperation with EURADOS (European Radiation Dosimetry Group) whose the Institute is an active member, and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). The second announcement to call for papers will be released in september. The tackle issues concern instrumentation and dosimetry techniques, different sides of neutron and ion dosimetry in medicine, in research, in industry and in aeronautics, and also dosimetry between physics and biology in cell scale.



 To find out more about EURADOS



A new dissertation in IRSN's HDR collection


IRSN's HDR (Authorization to Direct Research) collection has been enriched with a new dissertation paper, the work of Agnès François, entitled "Appréhender et gérer les lésions radiques digestives : importance de la réaction muqueuse et nouvelles orientations thérapeutiques".

It talks about studying the consequences of digestive system irradiation in radiotherapy treatments of tumors. It aims to adapt and to develop therapeutics prospects regarding digestive tract,  taking into account  secundary effects in their entirety, including outside of irradiation field (en dehors du champ d'irradiation (on the scale of an organ or organism).

Defended in September 2007, this HDR dissertation is now available on the site in PDF format from IRSN’s HDR collection, but it is also possible to order a paper copy.


 To upload the PDF file (in French)

 To order a copy of the book

 The HDR collection 



IRSN - partner of two Labex: CaPPA and Icome2


The IRSN is a partner of two laboratories of excellence (Labex), the list of which was published on 14 February 2012 by the French government’s general commission for future investments: the laboratory of Chemical and Physical Properties of the Atmosphere (CaPPA) and the interdisciplinary centre on multi-scale materials for energy and environment (Icome2). IRSN participates in the CaPPA Labex in the combustion, chemical kinetics and reactivity laboratory (C3R), which is a joint laboratory for the Institute and the Université Lille 1. In terms of the Icome2 Labex, IRSN is involved in its physics and thermomechanics of materials laboratory (LPTM). The winners of the “Labex” calls for projects are given financial assistance in order to enhance their international visibility, attract renowned researchers and construct a high-quality research policy.


 To find out more about C3R

 To find out more about LPTM (ex-LEC)

 To find out more about CaPPA

 Press release of Research French Ministry




Miloud Chahlafi, winner of a 2011 EADS Foundation prize


In January 2012, Miloud Chahlafi was awarded the 2011 prize for the best engineering sciences thesis by the EADS Foundation. Miloud Chahlafi completed his thesis entitled “Modelling of thermal radiation in the core of a degraded nuclear reactor in the presence of steam and water droplets” at LESAM (Laboratory for the Study and Simulation of Major Accidents) of IRSN, and which he defended in January 2011.
Every year, the EADS Foundation awards prizes for six theses that have contributed to significant advances in research, by exploring new avenues, by proposing new paradigms, or by establishing novel interfaces between disciplines.


 To find out more about LESAM

 To find out more about EADS prize ceremony 


Human factor

Resoh: A research chair for studying sub-contracting relations

A research and teaching chair devoted to the organisational and human aspects of sub-contracting and joint venture relations has been created at EMN (Nantes School of Mines). It aims to study such relations in the nuclear domain and more widely in other industrial sectors faced with risk management issues. In coherence with the recommendations of its Research Policy Committee, the Institute aims to involve its researchers in work developed with university and academic players. This new chair responds to a current and growing concern shared by several players involved in the nuclear industry, since it results from a partnership involving IRSN, Areva and the DCNS Group as joint funding bodies. Apart from the attention paid to this subject at the moment of complementary safety assessments of French facilities following Fukushima, it fits in with one of the major scientific themes of the new LRSHS (Human and Social Sciences Research Laboratory) created in January 2012 within IRSN. The holder of the chair is Benoit Journé, professor of management and researcher at IEMNA (Nantes-Atlantique Institute of Economy and Management) of the University of Nantes.


 To find out more about SEFH

 Press release of EMN



Experimental facility


An international neutron metrology comparison


The CCRI-K11 comparison of the International Commission of Weights and Measures' Consultative Committee for Ionizing Radiation deals with verifying the accuracy of national references of countries around the world for the fluence at four neutron energies. It will take place from September 2011 to October 2012 in Cadarache, at the AMANDE facility. This facility is being used to qualify the behavior with energy of neutron sensitive devices, such as those used for radiation protection of workers. In this comparison, IRSN is playing the roles of pilot, host laboratory, and participant. Each National Metrology Institutes of the participating countries (Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), as well as a Joint Research Center from the European Community, determine independently the fluence and its uncertainty at AMANDE calibration point. IRSN will then list the deviation from the mean value of each of the participant' measurements that will define the national measures' degree of equivalence (their difference from the agreed reference value). The results will be published in late 2013 in the journal "Metrologia."


To find out more about AMANDE facility



Research programme

Launch of the Diadomi project


The Diadomi project(1), which involves developing a diamond dosimeter to measure the dose absorbed by the patient during radiotherapy using beams of very small dimensions, began on 1 April 2011. Diadomi, coordinated by the CEA-LIST, brings together various partners: the IRSN, several hospital centres and an industrial partner. This three-year project is financed by the French Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (National Research Agency) following a successful medical technology bid.
Radiotherapy beams of very small dimensions allow irradiation to be carried out very precisely in a ballistic sense and very locally (over an area on the order of a square centimetre) thanks to convergent minibeams. This technique is used when a high-precision non-invasive treatment is necessary, or for anatomical areas that are difficult to access or highly sensitive to ionising radiation (brain, lungs, spinal cord, etc.); that is, for 2000 tumour treatments of the 200,000 performed annually. But there is currently no measurement protocol for the doses received by patients comparable to those existing in standard radiotherapy. The issue in development of the diamond detector is to increase the safety of treatments and the radiation protection of patients.
The dosimeter of the Diadomi project will have very small dimensions (active volume <1 mm3) and be highly sensitive due to the synthetic diamond used for the detector. Diamond, a very stable material, can in fact be used as an equivalent of human soft tissues with regard to ionising radiation, as it has a similar density. The dosimeter is to be developed by the CEA, which will rely in particular on dosimetric databases collected by the IRSN in facilities emitting minibeams. The Institute will test the dosimeter under conditions of clinical use in collaboration with the hospital partners.


(1) Development of a DIAmond dosimeter for measurement of the Dose absorbed in MInibeams)

 To find out more about DIADOMI project