Highlights from Projekts performed with or in the HOTLAB:

5 January 2018


UO2 fuel behavior at very high burnup

The investigation of the nuclear fuel at very high burnup is critical for evaluating the safety margin for the evaluated fuel in normal as well as in accidental conditions. PSI is one of the very few hot laboratories which possess access to irradiated UO2 fuel with very high burnup from commercial reactors. The application of relevant tools for the investigation, handling and analysis of those highly irradiated materials emphasize the necessary expertise.

5 January 2018


New Focused Ion Beam (FIB) in the Hot Laboratory

The implementation of Focused Ion Beam instruments in material research laboratories during the last decade has not only strongly improved the preparation of very thin specimens for the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), in particular at interfaces, but also led to the development of new analysis methods inside the instrument itself. It became a powerful instrument for the analyses of highly radioactive materials, because it allows for the production and analysis of very small specimens that can be then analyzed with very sensitive detectors without strong interference from the radiation field of the specimen itself.

8. February 2016

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The hotlab research facility

Miscellaneous Energy and Environment Materials Research Nuclear Power Plant Safety

Start of the public examination period for renewed authorization to operate the research facility hotlab at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI
The hotlab at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is a facility, unique in Switzerland, where researchers study highly radioactive materials in specially shielded chambers called hot cells. It serves the needs of applied materials research on highly radioactive samples from core structural components and fuel rods from nuclear power plants, research reactors, and the PSI radiation facilities. Through its operation of the hotlab, the Paul Scherrer Institute also contributes to the safety of the nuclear power plants in Switzerland. Around thirty staff members attend to the hotlab's safety technology and analysis infrastructure.

5. September 2013


Well-rounded concept for less nuclear waste

Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety

The idea of producing fuel for nuclear power stations in form of a package of spheres instead of today’s customary pellets was already born back in the 1960s. There was promise of a subsequent simplification of fuel production and a considerable reduction in the amount of radioactive waste both in the production of the fuel itself and after its use in a nuclear power station. However, the spherical fuel was never implemented as the fast reactors for which it was conceived were never built at a large scale. The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) has also been involved in the research on spherical fuel in the past. Now several projects partly funded by the EU are currently underway at the PSI again to refine the production of fuel spheres further. This form of fuel could either be used in special plants to reduce waste or in fast generation IV reactors, which in a closed cycle also produce less long-lived waste.

25. July 2013


How radionuclides escape through rock: insights for a geological waste storage site

Energy and Environment

How do radioactive substances move through the host rock in a deep repository for nuclear waste? Researchers from the Diffusion Processes Group in the Laboratory of Waste Management at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have been investigating. The transport properties of negatively charged radionuclides, which are repelled by the negatively charged surfaces of clay minerals and thus hardly adhere to the rock, are well known. An EU project in which the PSI is also involved is now yielding similar insights into positively charged and therefore highly adherent radionuclides.

11. July 2013


Knowledge for tomorrow from "hot cells"

Energy and Environment Research Using Neutrons Nuclear Power Plant Safety Large Research Facilities

The manipulation and examination of irradiated and therefore radioactive objects, be they from nuclear power stations or research facilities, requires strict safety measures. Tests may only be conducted in so-called “hot cells”, where the radioactivity is hermetically enclosed and shielded behind concrete and lead walls up to 1 metre thick. In the hot cells of the PSI hot lab, the burnt-off fuel rods from the Swiss nuclear power stations are studied from a materials science perspective. The insights gained help nuclear power station operators to optimise the efficiency and safety of their plants. Besides this service, the hot lab is involved in several international research projects.

1. December 2009

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Reliable materials for nuclear reactors

Nuclear Power Plant Safety Energy and Environment

Materials used in nuclear power plants are subjected to extreme conditions. The safety standards for the selection, deployment and monitoring of these materials are extremely high. At PSI, the long-term behaviour of power plant components is being studied. Hence researchers investigate the impact of stress-corrosion cracking in materials, or the effects of strong radioactive radiation on their durability.

21. August 2009

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Safe repositories for radioactive waste - a study of specifically Swiss conditions

Nuclear Power Plant Safety Energy and Environment

Radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, as well as from medical applications, industry and research, has to be isolated from the environment, particularly the habitat of humans, for a very long time. Specialists at PSI have been concerned with the safety issues surrounding safety certification for geological repositories for many years. Research at PSI focusses primarily on the physico-chemical processes inside such storage systems. The aim is to create a realistic description of the risks associated with storage of radioactive waste.