To enable it to carry out relevant expert assessments, IRSN develops its own research programs, with priority given to national and international collaboration through creating partnerships and mixed research units. The Institute also participates in numerous international research programs.
For IRSN, this means anticipating future questions on changes and control of risks from nuclear activities and developing new research themes on accidents and crisis management where IRSN supports the public authorities.
A few current research programs are detailed in the page below.
Safety in nuclear facilities
Research programs on fuel behavior
One of the major safety objectives of nuclear facilities is thus to contain radioactivity in all circumstances. IRSN carries out R&D programs to understand the behavior of the first containment barrier in the various accident situations that could occur in a PWR.
Reactivity injection accident
CABRI international program (CIP)
The actors of the international CABRI study the reactivity incidents to ensure the extraction of a maximum of energy from the fuel by extending the residence time in reactors.
The PERFROI experimental research project, launched in January 2014 for a six years long period, aims to better understand the cooling behavior of a nuclear reactor core in case of a loss of coolant accident (LOCA).
LOCA in spent fuel pools
The DENOPI project aims to acquire experimental data on the physical phenomena associated with a spent fuel pool loss-of-cooling and loss-of-coolant accidents.
Other research programs
Launched in 2017 for three years, the European
AEROMET project aims to
develop and demonstrate methods for traceability and calibration of different
aerosol instruments capable of covering the environmentally relevant size
range. The project also has the purpose to provide the
necessary EU wide calibration infrastructure for aerosol instruments. The
traceability and calibration will consider particle
size, number as mass concentration and chemistry of particle components.
The French National Research Agency (ANR)'s AGORAS (Improvement of Governance of Organizations and Networks of Actors for Nuclear Safety) project, which launched in 2014 and which will run until 2019, analyzes the human and organizational dimensions involved in the governance of nuclear risks in France, in the light of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
The international BSAF project (Benchmark Study of the Accident at the
Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station) primarily consists of carrying out and analyzing
numerical simulations of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant accident
Launched by the IRSN in December 2015 for a duration of three-years, the COSEA project should enable points for discussion to be proposed on the risks associated with joint activity and the tools that could be implemented to prevent them.
The corium-water interaction (ICE) project mains to improve knowledge of phenomena that may occur during a corium flow in water during a core melt accident in a nuclear reactor.
The MIRE (Mitigation of Releases to the Environment in the event of a nuclear accident) project aims to study and improve filtration of radioactive releases during a reactor meltdown accident (referred to as a severe accident).
The MITHYGENE project aims to improve knowledge of hydrogen risk and how to manage it during a severe accident.
The ODOBA (Observatory of the durability of reinforced concrete structures) project was launched by IRSN in 2016 for a period of at least 10 years. The aim of the project is to study concrete pathologies and their consequences for nuclear structures (e.g. Reactor containments).
The PROGRES program (ex-PEARL), aims to better understand the behavior of steam and water flow in a porous medium composed of solid particles at very high temperature under conditions representative of a core melt accident (or severe accident).
The PRISME program (Spread of a Fire for Multi room elementary Scenarios) is an international research program which experimentally studies the propagation of smoke and heat released by a fire located in a nuclear installation.
is an international project launched in October 2017 for three years. It aims to improve the knowledge concerning on one hand the
risk of explosion combustible gases produced during a late-phase severe
accident, on the other hand the performance of existing means to prevent this
risk and to limit the related consequences.
SHINRAI ("Trust" in Japanese) is a Franco-Japanese research project,
launched in 2014 and coordinated by the IRSN, that aims to investigate
the social and political consequences of the Fukushima accident that
occurred in 2011.
The Source Term Evaluation and Mitigation (STEM) project is aimed at learning more about the
behaviour of radioactive materials that could be released to the
environment in the event of a core melt down accident at a nuclear
Radiation protection for human health and environment
Launched in January 2014, this project aims to improve two types of models, those that forecast the dispersion of radionuclides in the environment and those that assess the impact of radionuclides on two compartments of the biosphere and their interfaces, i.e. the marine environment and land ecosystems and associated surface water.
Launched in 2001, ENVIRHOM is aimed at bringing together human health and environmental specialists to observe the effects of very low-level chronic exposure to radionuclides. The program studies radionuclide bioaccumulation phenomena in ecosystems and humans.
Launched in 2005, the EPICE (evaluation of diseases induced by caesium 137 contamination) research program aims to study non-cancerous effects that may result from exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation. The program aims to assess whether chronic caesium contamination may induce cardiac arrhythmias and lens opacities (early stages of cataract development).
EPI-CT (Epidemiological study to quantify risks for pediatric
computerized tomography and to optimize doses) is an international
epidemiological study that seeks to assess the risk of long-term effects
for children and adolescents exposed to ionizing radiation during CT
The EXTREME Project, launched in 2005, studies transfers of materials (mainly artificial radioactivity inventory) during sudden and extreme weather and climate events. The EXTREME project draws on the results of two other projects: the
CARMA Project (hydro-sedimentary study of the Rhone river region) and the
EXTREMA Project (which extends the scope of Extreme to include metal contaminants in the Mediterranean coastal area).
INWORKS is an international epidemiological study on workers in the
nuclear sector. It
seeks to gain greater knowledge relating to the risks of cancer and
non-cancerous diseases linked to chronic exposure to low doses of
ionizing radiation at low dose rates.
Launched in the autumn of 2014 by the Radionuclide Ecotoxicology Laboratory (LECO) and lasting three years, the ISATIS (Ionizing Radiation and Biological Mechanisms) project focused on analyzing, in living organisms, damage to proteins induced by chronic exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation.
Launched in early 2019, to run for a duration of four years, the IXBONE
project aims to develop a new cell therapy strategy to limit induced
side effects on bone tissue following radiation therapy used in the
treatment of cancers of the upper respiratory and digestive tracts.
The PRIODAC (repeated stable iodine prophylaxis in accidental situations) project, launched in March 2014, aims to identify procedures for administering stable iodine to people exposed to repeated or prolonged accidental radioactive releases, such as those observed at Fukushima.
Launched by IRSN in July 2009, the ROSIRIS program aims to better understand the mechanisms giving rise to secondary effects in radiotherapy.
The new cell therapy in experimental radiopathology program, launched in 2009 for a five-year duration, is continuing the research conducted in this field by the IRSN for several years. The aim of this new period is to define the optimum conditions of clinical use of adult stem cells in the context of the treatment of severe tissue lesions following radiotherapy or accidental exposure to ionizing radiation.