IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


Research programmes

The CHIP Programme

The CHIP programme aims to reduce the level of uncertainty on radioactive iodine releases during a core meltdown accident in a nuclear reactor. The programme results will also be used to better define the means and measures to be implemented in order to limit such releases.

Content and objectives


This programme is dedicated to studying iodine chemistry under thermal non equilibrium (impact of chemical kinetics) in the primary cooling system in the event of a core meltdown accident in a water reactor. 

The CHIP programme follows two axes which respectivly aims to:

  • Identify physico-chemical elements which may have a reaction with iodine during his transfert from core to containment structure (short transfert duration, fast cooling...) and also identify chemical species which influence presence of volatile iodine ;
  • Get kinetics datas of the main reactions.


So as to fulfill these objectives, the experimental programme uses more or less complex "phenomenolgy" lines in the form of experimental facilities and a "analytical" line.


The data collected will be used to validate the transport models for iodine in the primary cooling system, which are integrated in the ASTEC software. This software is developed by the DPAM to predict the different types of possible accidents and the related radioactive product releases.


The CHIP programme is run by IRSN/DPAM and is part of the International Source Term Programme co-funded by the CEA, EDF, IRSN, the European Commission, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety the Paul Scherrer Institute and SUEZ-Tractebel over the 2005-2012 period.




The CHIP programme relies on several scientific partnerships both on a national and international level. The "analytical" line tests are performed in Lille at the CNRS/ PC2A. Part of the "phenomenology" line loop was designed and developed by the Finish Research Institute VTT. A research programme has been launched in collaboration with the CNRS/LASIR, focusing on the molecular composition (speciation) of aerosols produced in the CHIP phenomenology loop. Other collaboration agreements may be signed to improve the performance of experimental devices, particularly in terms of separating iodine into aerosol and gas forms.


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Accident de fusion d’un coeur de réacteur nucléaire Crédits: IRSN/DPAM


Start: 2004
Tests: 2008-2012
End: 2012
Involved IRSN laboratories
CNRS LASIR (Raman and Infrared Spectrochemistry Lab., CNRS-UMR 8516), University of Lille 1
CNRS PC2A (Physical Chemistry Laboratory of Combustion Processes and Atmosphere, CNRS-UMR 8522), University of Lille 1
VTT (Finnish research center, Espoo)

Associated programme



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