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1st semester 2017 scientific news

Research programsLaunch meeting for the PRISME 3 program
The experimental program PRISME3 performed by the IRSN under the aegis of the OECD is to study the effects of fire in rooms in a nuclear installation equipped with an industrial ventilation network. It started at the beginning of 2017 and will last 5 years.

The first project progress meeting took place on the 27 and 28 April in Aix-en-Provence with the 12 current partners: BelV and Tractebel (Belgium), CRIEPI and NRA (Japan), VTT (Finland), KINS and KAERI (South Korea), GRS (Germany), ONR and HSL (UK) EDF and DGA (France). A representative of the NRC from the USA attended as an observer. Since then, the NRC has announced its intention to join the project.

During the meeting, the objectives and organisation of the first experimental campaign were discussed and approved by the partners. These large scale tests will take place in the Autumn of 2017. They will study the propagation of smoke released by a fire in an installation representative of a nuclear installation. More specifically, the campaign will study smoke propagation phenomena from one room to other rooms under specific ventilation conditions. It will also study the combustion of fire sources located at height as well as the presence of two fires at the same time in two rooms of the installation. To do that, the DIVA facility -whose mechanical ventilation system was renovated for this reason- and hydrocarbon fires will be used.

The PRISME 3 program completes the studies performed during the two previous research programs on fires in a confined environment also carried out under the umbrella of the OECD in an international partnership. PRISME 2 took place from June 2011 to November 2016. It looked at fires in rooms situated one above the other, fires in cableways and also looked at sprinkler systems. The first PRISME program analysed the various mechanisms involved in propagation of hot gases and smoke from one room on fire to adjacent rooms.

To find out more about PRISME programs



TAT-10: travel award for an IRSN PhD student

Nadia Benabdallah, a PhD student at IRSN’s Internal Dose Assessment Laboratory (LEDI) received a travel award to attend the 10th International Symposium on Targeted Alpha Therapy (TAT-10). The award of the bursary – unusual during a doctorate – enabled her to go and present her research in progress on dose optimisation in alpha-particle therapy* patients.


The TAT-10 symposium was held on 31 May and 1 June in Kanazawa (Japan) and brought together international specialists in alpha-particle therapy. It was organised by the University of Kanazawa and the European Union’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), and marked the 20th anniversary of a successful series of international symposia on alpha-particle therapy organised by the JRC. Around 30 presentations provided material for discussion concerning recent developments in this type of radiotherapy.


*Alpha-particle therapy is a type of radiotherapy involving the use of a radioactive isotope emitting alpha radiation. One of the advantages of alpha emitters is that they are more destructive than beta isotopes over short distances.

To find out more about Nadia Benabdallah's doctoral thesis
TAT-10 website

Scientific collaboration
IRSN renews cooperation agreement with ENEA

Jean-Christophe Niel, Director-General of IRSN, and Federico Testa, President of the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), have signed the cooperation agreement on nuclear safety radiation protection between the two organizations for five years.


This agreement, first signed during the Franco-Italian Summit on 9 April 2010, was originally devoted to provide a framework for cooperation between France and Italy in the nuclear sector, and more particularly in the areas of research, nuclear safety and radiation protection. This came under the broader Memorandum of Understanding between France and Italy on cooperation in the civil nuclear sector signed in 2009.


The renewal of the agreement between IRSN and ENEA consolidates this cooperation, with the systematic objective of improving safety of nuclear facilities. To this end, the two organizations have identified a number of "specific subjects for cooperation" they share an interest for and they intend to work together. These subjects include R&D on nuclear fusion, the development of Monte-Carlo codes, emergency response management and passive safety. Over the last seven years, in addition to the use of shared tools (computational codes, research platform, etc.), their cooperation has also helped strengthen both partners' role within the European research platforms and the Etson network.


In the incoming years, IRSN and ENEA will pursue work on several subjects of particular interest within the framework of this agreement, for example, extending the lifetime of nuclear power plants, the future commissioning of the EPR and responses to the Fukushima accident in terms of radiation protection and site cleanup.


Photo: J.-C. Niel -on the left- and F. Testa are signing the cooperation agreement. © IRSN


To find out more about ENEA
Read the IRSN press release of 9 April 2010

Scientific collaboration

End of the European COMET project


From April 25 to 27, the COMET (Coordination and Implementation of a pan-Europe Instrument for Radioecology) consortium has held its final meeting in Bruges, Belgium, on the project underway since 2013. The event has focused on its major contributions to the main issues in radioecology* and efforts to maintain the high level of research in this area in Europe. The project's future will also be discussed.


SCK•CEN (Belgium's nuclear research center) has led the COMET consortium as part of the European Commission's 7th Research and Development Framework Program. The group includes 20 partners from 15 countries, mostly European. One of its goals is to continue standardizing and pooling research, facilities and activities that capitalize on the various partners' knowledge and training programs. The four-year project has also produced new knowledge and tools consistent with the European Radioecology Alliance's strategic research agenda (SRA).


The IRSN actively contributed by participating in research aiming to improve and validate various models of radionuclide transfer in the environment. It also coordinated activities and contributed to research that increases knowledge on the trans-generational effects of chronic exposure to ionizing radiation in wild species, focusing on the role of epigenetic processes.


* The study of the transport and transfer of radionuclides in the environment and their potential impact on human being and ecosystems


COMET website

Scientific collaborationSecond transnational CONCERT call for proposals

In March, the European CONCERT consortium (European Joint Program for the Integration of Radiation Protection Research) has launched its second call for proposals in the field of radiation protection in Europe. There are three goals: to support transnational research projects that combine innovative approaches in the field of radiation protection; to integrate expertise and technical (E&T) activities as well as cooperation with universities on multidisciplinary research projects; and to make optimal use of existing research infrastructures.


Proposals on two main themes, each including three sub-themes, may be submitted online until May, 2 :

  • Understanding human health effects from ionising radiation and improving dosimetry
  • Radioecology, emergency and social sciences and humanities.


Launched in 2015 after the first call for projects at the 8th European radiation protection program EURATOM, CONCERT aims to sustainably integrate national and European research projects into a joint European radiation protection program. the consortium is an umbrella structure for four European radiation protection platforms: MELODI (low doses), The Alliance (radioecology), NERIS (emergency situation management) and EURADOS (dosimetry). The IRSN is one of the organizations the French authorities designated to head the project for France. The others are the National Research Agency (ANR) and the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).


Full text of the call for projects

To submit a project

To find out more about CONCERT

Publication of the book "Element of security and non-proliferation"


EP-EN_Couv.jpgIRSN publishes a new book in its Science and Technology Series, entitled "Elements of security and non-proliferation". It describes the measures implemented in France and at international level to prevent terrorism and malicious acts and, if necessary, mitigate the consequences of any such act. It deals with the security of nuclear material, nuclear facilities and the transport of nuclear material, the security of radioactive sources and describes States' undertakings to implement safeguards relative to tracking nuclear material and chemicals to prevent their use for fraudulent purposes.


This is the first publication in a new series of educational publications entitled "Elements of nuclear safety, radiological protection and security" and created by IRSN. The series takes up the general objective of tackling all aspects of risk management in the nuclear field, in terms of protecting human health, society and the environment. These publications will be of interest to anyone concerned by these issues, especially those who work in the nuclear industry, but it will also answer many questions that members of the public may have regarding these subjects. It includes information on context and history, the provisions and requirements contained in French regulations and international agreements, as well as details of the roles played by the various entities involved, including IRSN.


The book published by the IRSN is available in its entirety, in the printable (B & W) and non-printable (color) PDF formats. It is also possible to order a hard copy and will soon be available in e-pub.

To find out more about the Science and Technology Series
To download the unprintable, in colour, PDF book

Research programs
Call for H2020-Euratom projects: IRSN is participating in eight of the projects chosen as beneficiaries
The European Commission has just published the results of its 2016-2017 H2020 Euratom “Fission and Fusion” call for projects. IRSN is participating in eight of the 25 new European projects selected as beneficiaries, which will be launched during the year. From the Commission, the institute receives a €2-million share of a total €41-million subsidy—all partners included—for the eight projects. In addition, IRSN will be a member of a consultative group without funding for three other projects involving MOX fuels, in-core neutron monitoring techniques and waste storage.

Regarding generation II and III nuclear reactors, the institute will contribute to three projects: ATLAS+ (Advanced Tools for Structural Integrity Assessment and Plant Lifetime Management) on the integrity of welded pipe seals, NARSIS (New Approach to Reactor Safety Improvements) on extreme risks and probability studies and TEAM CABLES (European Tools and Methodologies for an Efficient Ageing Management of Nuclear Power Plant Cables) on ageing electric cables in Europe’s existing nuclear power plants.

IRSN will also participate in several research projects involving generation IV reactors: ESFR-SMART (European Sodium Fast Reactor-Safety Measures Assessment and Research Tools) concerning sodium-cooled reactors, GENIORS (GEN IV Integrated Oxide Fuels Recycling Strategies) concerning MOX fuel, as well as one project concerning small modular reactors (SMR), GEMINI PLUS (Research and Development in Support of the GEMINI Initiative).

With regard to radiological protection, IRSN will take part in two projects: MEDIRAD (Implications of Medical Low Dose Radiation Exposure) on the risks of low-dose radiotherapy and TRANSAT (Transversal Actions for Tritium) on tritium’s effects on man and the environment.

To find out more about IRSN's scientific collaborations

Research programs
IRSN and RIR sign a collaboration agreement as part of TERRITORIES
The IRSN and the Research Institute of Radiology (RIR) signed a collaboration agreement in Fontenay-aux-Roses on March 23 as part of the European project TERRITORIES launched in late January.

The cooperation agreement between the RIR (Gomel, Belarus) and the IRSN will allow the two institutes to jointly develop a research project, TERRITORIES, which aims at studying exposure situations in the long term. This project will also assess the importance of involving stakeholders in protecting the public from radiation. TERRITORIES must lay the groundwork for the development of a method to reduce uncertainty during decision-making processes evaluating doses to wildlife and human populations after a nuclear accident or at former mining sites.

The IRSN and RIR will cooperate on assessing the importance of time and space variations in food contamination in a Belarusian village. They will also evaluate the effectiveness of local stakeholders’ involvement in decreasing the population’s exposure. The TERRITORIES project will rely on the research to draw up the recommendations for a graduated approach to measuring doses, adopting a level of realism appropriate to the issues involved in describing exposure scenarios. The data can also be used as entry data for other research programs on chronic low-dose contamination in post-accident situations.

To find out more about the kick-off of the TERRITORIES project
To find out more about LRTOX, IRSN laboratory involved in this agreement

The 13th issue of Aktis, IRSN’s scientific newsletter, is available
Aktis-13-EN.jpg The thirteenth English-language issue of Aktis, the quarterly newsletter on IRSN’s research, is available on a HTML and PDF package. Aktis is published only in a digital version and available in HTML or text format for e-mail, RSS and a pageflip PDF. 
In this issue, focus on geochemical investigations downstream from former mines. Aktis n°13 also treats of NUCLEA, a thermodynamic database for materials. As well, it deals with the assessment of the “biological dose” received in the case of contamination and with using stem cells to treat radiation-induced visceral pain.
The subscription for the English and French versions is complimentary. To read this issue or subscribe, go to

Research programs

The final workshop of the European PASSAM project


On February 28 and March 01 the final workshop was held in the context of the PASSAM project, which had been coordinated by the IRSN with its eight European partners between 2013 and 2016.   The workshop brought together approximately one hundred persons and was intended to discuss the results of this project concerning the filtration of radioactive atmospheric releases following a core meltdown accident at a light-water nuclear reactor.


The PASSAM project (Passive and Active Systems on Severe Accident Source Term Mitigation) was launched in 2013 as part of the European Commission's 7th FP (Framework Program for Research and Development). With a view to enhancing the process concerned, it studied the retention of radioactive atmospheric releases that may reach the environment following a core meltdown accident at a nuclear reactor such as those that occurred at Fukushima-Daiichi in 2011. This project focused particularly on the enhancement of nuclear reactors' existing filtration systems and the study of innovative devices for trapping iodine compounds (in aerosol and gaseous form) which, in the short term, represent the highest risk to health.


In four years, the PASSAM project made it possible to constitute a database of the characteristics of each filtration system studied. It will be useful not only to the various national nuclear safety authorities, but also to their technical safety organizations (TSOs) and to industrial companies, with a view to increasing the reliability of the devices existing in nuclear power plants currently in service or to installing new systems.


A number of existing devices were reviewed (pool scrubbing filters, sand filters and metallic pre-filters), in addition to a number of innovative systems (high-pressure sprays, electrostatic precipitators, advanced zeolites, acoustic agglomerator systems, and combined wet-dry filtration systems). The observations arising from the experiments conducted during the PASSAM project have made it possible to establish new calculation models and to enhance the existing models. These models mainly provide input into the calculation software programs for severe accidents, particularly the IRSN's system of ASTEC programs, used in the European Union, but also calculation programs specifically designed for pool scrubbing. 


The results of the PASSAM project are the subject of a final report, published in February 2017 and available on the projects website.

The PASSAM project

EURADOS Young Scientist Award goes to IRSN researcher
The work rewarded relates to an intercomparison proposed and implemented by LEDI as part of EURADOS. The intercomparison aimed to evaluate the internal dose received by nuclear workers, as part of epidemiological studies on the induced risks of uranium exposure. Sixteen participants evaluated the doses received by three professionally active nuclear workers between 1960 and the early 1980s, through raw data supplied by IRSN.
Estelle Davesne then analyzed all of the results obtained, determining the sources of uncertainty over the reconstituted doses based on epidemiological data. She was able to identify the parameters on which there was consensus (such as the ICRP's biokinetic and dosimetric models) as well as those which could be refined through modeling (such as lung absorption, exposure period, etc.). Using the first study, she will be performing a sensitivity analysis to evaluate the degree of influence of these parameters on dose estimates. It is the first intercomparison of this type, and the results will be particularly useful to epidemiologists in monitoring cohorts of workers.
Each year, the EURADOS Young Scientist Award recognizes work carried out by scientists under the age of 35 under the guidance of this network in the field of ionizing radiation dosimetry. The research will lead to scientific publications and presentations at international conferences.
The EURADOS permanent network is comprised of experts and reference laboratories in radioprotection, radiobiology, diagnosis and radiotherapy, and aims to support scientific and technical research in the field of ionizing radiation dosimetry in Europe and internationally. The main objectives are to align existing work practices, establish a dosimetry training approach and be part of the CONCERT European Consortium.

To find out more about the involved IRSN laboratory
To find out more about the EURADOS network

Research programs
Launch of the European CONFIDENCE project

The kick-off meeting for the European CONFIDENCE1 project took place in Karlsruhe, Germany on 16 and 17 February. CONFIDENCE was selected after a call for projects by CONCERT, the European joint programming tool whose goals include consolidating various radioprotection research projects2. The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology runs CONFIDENCE, which involves 31 partners3, including IRSN, from 18 European countries.


Confidence aims at reducing uncertainties in decision-making processes during a nuclear crisis, in order to better protect the population and minimize disruption to their lives. To achieve that goal, CONFIDENCE will use a multidisciplinary approach, dealing with every aspect of the radiological situation during a nuclear accident, from predicting the dispersion of radioactivity in the environment to implementing post-accidental decontamination solutions and assessing potential consequences for the population. This approach takes all the stakeholders' opinions into account (institutional structures, experts, NGOs, citizens, etc.). An objective is to improve decision-making tools and methods in the management of nuclear crises.


The project comprises six work packages (WP). IRSN is the leader of WP1, which will study the uncertainties tainting the technical evaluations made during a nuclear accident's emergency phase, that is, before and during the release period. The Institute also participates in WP2, which focuses on improving environmental measurements and evaluating the amount of radioactivity the population might receive if protective measures are not taken, especially in the event of emissions containing radioactive iodine. Lastly, IRSN contributes to WP4, which develops decision-making strategies to manage the post-accidental phase. These strategies are based on interactions with the stakeholders and aim at taking identified uncertainties into account in the decision process.


WP1 will use an approach called "ensemble forecast", which consists in performing many atmospheric dispersion simulations of accidental radioactive releases, in order to evaluate the radiological risk in a probabilistic way rather than with a deterministic response. Specifically, WP1 will list and assess parameters that are sources of uncertainty, not only input variables such as meteorological forecasts (wind direction, rain, etc.) and atmospheric emissions (composition, amount, time and duration), but also numerical approximations and  limitations of the scientific models used. Then, the uncertainties will be evaluated and propagated through dispersion models, to quantify their effects on the radiological consequences (soil contamination, evaluation of doses to the population, etc.). The quantification of uncertainties could then be integrated to recommendations to protect the population. For example maps of probability of threshold exceedance for dose can be provided to decision makers, based on reference levels above which counter-measures (sheltering, evacuation, stable iodine intake) are recommended. The 2011 Fukushima accident and hypothetical accident scenarios in Europe will be studied. The end goal is to make this method operational during a crisis (short calculation time, simplicity of use, lack of information, etc.). WP1's simulation outputs will be used by other WPs, especially the panels of stakeholders brought together by WP4 and WP5.


After the CONFIDENCE project, tools, guidelines and recommendations will be issued to help experts making ensemble evaluations, and decision-makers taking these uncertainties into account in the event of an accident.


1. COping with uNcertainties For Improved modelling and DEcision making in Nuclear emergenCiEs

2. CONCERT-European Joint Programme for the Integration of Radiation Protection Research 

3. KIT (Germany), BFS (Germany), NERC-CEH (United Kingdom), CEPN (France), CIEMAT (Spain), EPA (Ireland), EEAE (Greece), HMGU (Germany), IRSN (France), Mutadis (France), NMBU (Norway), NRPA (Norway), Zurich University (Switzerland), DH PHE (United Kingdom), DTU (Denmark), RIVM (Netherlands), SCK-CEN (Belgium), STUK (Finland), UMIL (Italy), VUJE (Slovakia), KNMI (Netherlands), APA (Portugal), Dialogik (Germany), Warwick University (United Kingdom), IST (Portugal), REC (Slovenia), DLO RIKILT (Netherlands), University of Extremadura (Spain), Met Office (United Kingdom), MTA EK (Hungary), NMI (Norway)

Research programs
4th Meeting of the AMORAD project's Scientific and Technical Committee
The 4th meeting of the AMORAD project's STC took place at the Fontenay-aux-Roses site on Friday, 10 February. IRSN coordinates the AMORAD project, selected by the "Agence nationale de recherche" (ANR) during the 2012 call for research in nuclear safety and radioprotection. Launched in November 2013, it aims to improve models for predicting radionuclide dispersion and transfer in the environment, thereby reducing the uncertainties associated to radiological risk assessments to humans and the consequences in the event of a serious nuclear accident such as those that occurred at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Halfway through the project, which will end in late 2019, discussions between the partners led them to agree on the relevance of the findings obtained in order to deliver recommendations and tools allowing the implementation of an integrated approach to support decision-making in the event of a nuclear accident, whether it impacts the marine environment directly or indirectly, via the continuum of catchment areas from the continental environment (e.g., forests and forest soils) to the ocean. From the beginning of the project to the end of 2016, the research resulted in the publication of 18 articles in international scientific journals and the delivery of 55 papers at symposia. IRSN, together with its 12 partners, is pursuing the program by gradually validating transfer models developed and by expanding the multidimensional scientific and socio-economic expertise necessary for decision-making.

To find out more about AMORAD project

AwardIRSN team wins Electronic Poster Award

An IRSN team (PRP-HOM/UEM) working with physicists from several medical centers[1] won the jury's "special mention" for its electronic poster presented during the Journées Francophones de la Radiologie (JFR) in Paris in October 2016. Among the 700 posters on display during the event, it was one of the most viewed by participants.


The poster, "Breast Digital Tomosynthesis:[2] Dose and Internal Quality Control", highlighted the findings of a study aiming to assess various 3D mammography systems in terms of dose and image quality, as well as to evaluate several phantoms that could be recommended for quality control. Many centers in France already offer Breast Digital Tomosynthesis (DBT), and the introduction of this technique within the French breast cancer screening program is being considered by the authorities in the coming years. Quality control protocols must therefore be developed for this technology.


The study has shown that the diversity in design of DBT systems leads to variability in terms of image quality and dose depending on breast thickness. Therefore it seems necessary to monitor DBT systems on a regular basis. Moreover, two phantoms exhibit interesting features for internal quality control.


Organized by the Société Française de la Radiologie (SFR), which promotes scientific advances in radiology, the yearly JFR event is a major event for French and French-speaking radiology specialists.


[1] Georges Pompidou European Hospital/Paris V University, Jean Verdier Hospital/Paris XIII University, Gustave Roussy Institute, Curie Institute, Saint-Louis Hospital/Paris VII University

[2] Breast Digital Tomosynthesis is a new breast imaging technology that some clinical studies say offers more sensitive and specific cancer detection because the superimposition of tissue is reduced compared to 2D mammography.

To see the electronic poster (PDF in French)

Research programs
Kick-off of the European TERRITORIES project
On Friday, January 27, 2017, the kick-off meeting was held in Paris for the European TERRITORIES project1, which was selected in a call for projects by CONCERT2, a European “joint programming” tool which counts integrating radiation protection research among its objectives.

The aim of the project, under the direction of IRSN, is to construct a method to reduce uncertainties during decision-making processes by taking into account the involvement of all stakeholders (institutions, experts, associations, citizens, etc.) to assess doses to human and wild animal populations in order to manage the risk linked to long term exposure in contaminated areas after a nuclear accident or situations involving naturally-occuring radionuclides (NORM) contamination. The project involves 11 partners3 from eight European countries and will last three years.

To reach this objective, the partners must develop a harmonized approach at the European level which is applicable to all situations involving long-term environmental exposure to radioactivity. This approach will be made available to decision-makers while taking into account all sources of uncertainty. It will be used in a guide explaining the approach for decision-making made jointly with stakeholders for managing areas where human and non-human populations are exposed over the long term to radioactivity that is significantly higher than natural background radiation.

1. To Enhance unceRtainties Reduction and stakeholders Involvement TOwards integrated and graded Risk management of humans and wildlife In long-lasting radiological Exposure Situations

2. CONCERT-European Joint Programme for the Integration of Radiation Protection Research

3. Partners include IRSN (France), BfS (Germany), CEPN (France), CIEMAT (Spain), NMBU (Norway), NRPA (Norway), Public Health England (United Kingdom), Belgium Nuclear Research Center (Belgium), STUK (Finland), University of Tartu (Estonia), Mutadis (France).

4th International Conference on Radioecology and Environmental Radioactivity (ICRER 2017): call for papers
The 4th International Conference on Radioecology and Environmental Radioactivity (ICRER) will be held in Berlin, Germany, 3-8 September 2017. The conference is organised by IRSN and NRPA, with the support of the European research platform in radioprotection (notably ALLIANCE, MELODI, NERIS), the AIEA and IUR.

The scientific programme will be comprised of selected oral presentations and posters, spread in nine different sessions (the sessions list is available on ICRER website). People who want to attend the conference may submit their abstract on the conference website until February 28, 2017.

The aim of the conference is to review and discuss recent achievements in radioecology and related disciplines, as well as to promote continued development in these subjects in order to improve radiological protection of humans and the environment. The conference will be a key forum for researchers, industry, regulators and experts for whom radioactivity in the environment is an interest area.

Research programsFirst power operation of the CABRI reactor since 2003

The last quarter of 2016 included the first power operation tests of the Cabri facility in more than a decade. A long test campaign of power transients (startup tests) will begin in January 2017 to characterize the entire operating domain of the facility. The startup tests verify that this CEA experimental reactor is ready for the first test of IRSN's CABRI International Program (CIP).


The initial power operation tests served to qualify the instrumentation of the Cabri facility by achieving several power levels from 5 to 23 MW and calibrate the neutron chambers used for online measurement of reactor power. In large part they constitute the final phase for requalification of the Cabri facility and complement the qualification tests of the reactor's new pressurized water loop in its nominal conditions (280°C and 155 bar). Analysis of these tests is required to receive authorization to carry out the CIP.


Power operation follow initial criticality of the Cabri reactor, October 20, 2015, in its new, post-renovation configuration. Performed between October 2015 and June 2016, low power  tests (< 100 kW) have been used for neutron characterization of the reactor core. From 2003 to 2015, the Cabri reactor underwent an important renovation phase to respond to the requirements of CIP and current safety requirements (earthquake, fire, transport, etc.): seismic reinforcement of buildings and equipment, upgrade for controlling fire risk (measures to limit spread of a fire, etc.), renovation of several systems including reactor core cooling, replacement of nuclear ventilation and I&C, and in particular, replacement of the sodium test loop with the new pressurized water loop which reliably reproduces the pressure (155 bar) and temperature (280°C) conditions of a pressurized water reactor (PWR).


Originally, the Cabri reactor was intended for tests to study reactivity accidents[i] taken into account in the safety demonstration of certain research reactors. It went critical for the very first time in 1964. In 1977-78 the reactor was reconverted: the core was changed and the facility equipped with a loop reproducing the operating conditions of sodium-cooled fast reactors. From 1978 to 2001, safety tests for the Phénix and Superphénix fast reactors were performed followed by sodium loop studies of reactivity accidents in PWRs (PWR-Na program, 1993-2000). In 2000, after changes in the conditions for using fuel in reactors and to supplement the previous REP-Na program, IRSN launched CIP under the auspices of the OECD. Consisting of tests at the Cabri facility, it will study the behavior of PWR fuel rods during a reactivity accident with the fuel rods in conditions that are identical to those of the reactor. The program includes a total of 12 tests, of which two were already completed on the sodium loop in 2002. The tests will supplement the complete phenomenology of RIAs, particularly in the advanced phase for which the nature of the fluid (water or sodium) affects the physical phenomena that occur, especially the quantity of heat extracted from fuel rods by the cooling fluid. They will also refine the simulations that contribute to safety assessments.


 [i] Reactivity injection accidents, often called reactivity accidents or reactivity-initiated accidents (RIAs),  are generally taken into account in the reactor design. For PWRs, they result from the failure of a mechanism controlling a control rod assembly, which helps to regulate the nuclear reaction. Reactivity accidents leads to a rapid, violent generation of energy in the fuel.

To find out more about CIP program

Research programs - Nuclear waste
Two new IRSN research projects selected following the Andra/ANR call for projects
Certyf and Kri-Terres, two projects involving IRSN, have just been selected following the call for projects issued by Andra, in cooperation with the French National Research Agency (ANR), as part of the “Investment in the Future” program. These are additional results of the second session of the call for projects issued at the end of 2015, for which 17 projects have already been selected. The call for projects seeks to promote the emergence of innovative solutions for optimizing predisposal management of radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear facilities. It targets industry, small and medium-sized businesses in France, and the scientific community. The first session of the call for projects was issued in 2014, following which 12 projects - including Camrad* - were selected for an overall budget worth 40 million euros.

Certyf, a project coordinated by Laboratoire Hubert Curien (LabHC - University of Saint-Etienne) with IRSN and Laboratoire Physique de la Matière Condensée (LPMC - University of Nice), is aimed at learning more about the combined effects of various environmental constraints, including radiation, temperature, rock, and hydrogen, on the resistance and aging of several types of optical fibers that are increasingly used in nuclear facilities.

Kri-Terres is a project coordinated by Armines, in collaboration with IRSN. It consists in developing an innovative approach for planning ahead, in the event of nuclear facility decommissioning, for the management of soil that may have been contaminated by radioactive liquid discharged by the facility during its lifetime. The novel approach will combine geostatistics and simulations of radionuclide transport in the subsoil to simplify the management of uncertainties concerning possible soil contamination, together with the related costs.

* Camrad is a project involving multiple partners, coordinated by the Institut Supérieur de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace (ISAE – SUPAERO). Its aim is to create a high-resolution camera that is radiation-hard (with ten times the radiation hardness of existing cameras) and that can be used at every stage of dismantling and radioactive waste disposal processes. It should provide high-definition images that are unaffected by radiation.

Complete list of selected projects


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