IRSN, Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire

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Research units

Airborne Pollutants and Containment Study and Research Department (Serac)

Unit devoted to studies, research and assessment work on radioactive containment and airborne contamination transfers in nuclear facilities and neighboring areas under normal and accident conditions.

Scope of activity


This unit is responsible for basic research in aerosol physics and fluid mechanics applied to aeraulic transfers, ventilation and filtering, as well as gas diffusion within facilities. It therefore develops and operates experimental facilities used for the following purposes: 

  • production of radioactive reference contamination to calibrate air contamination monitors, for both natural contamination (Baccara test bench: radon) and artificial contamination (Icare test bench: cesium, plutonium, noble gases)
  • knowledge acquisition concerning radioactive particulate material suspension in normal situations (dismantling) and under degraded conditions (incidents, accidents)
  • study of sampling strategies (operator, ambient dose rates) for particulate contamination in workstations (Cepia facility) 
  • data acquisition on containment barrier resistance under degraded conditions (Simoun and Starmania test benches to predict the mechanical and thermal resistance of sectorization equipment in case of fire, i.e., very high efficiency fibers, fire dampers) 
  • validation of physical transfer models (Tosqan experiment on PWR containment hydrogen risks in case of severe accident)


This unit also contributes to the development of computation tools for a more accurate assessment of the impact of these types of accident situations on environmental discharges: development of appropriate codes for aeraulic transfers, combination with available codes (such as the combined SIMEVENT-FLAMME code for ventilation/fire interactions).

This unit is also responsible for the normalization and approval of radiological protection instrumentation, nuclear equipment and personal protection devices, on the basis of standardized testing and verification work.





  • Aerosol Physics and Metrology Laboratory (LPMA)
  • Laboratory for the Experimental Study of Containment, Air cleaning and Ventilation (Lecev)
  • Laboratory for the Study and Modelling of Airborne Dispersion and Containment (Lemac)
  • Technical Center for the Qualification of the Radiation Protection Instruments (CTHIR)
  • Technical Center for Nuclear Equipments Homologation(CTHEN)

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Banc de test olfactif ©Noak/Le bar Floréal/IRSN



By phone : +33 (0)


by e-mail, head of unit, Jean-Claude Laborde


Airborne Pollutants and Containment Study and Research Department
91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex

SERAC's units


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