Nuclear Energy and Safety Research Division
Based on this infrastructure and the know-how of its collaborators the Division is involved in three main topics of research: Safety of currently operating light-water reactors, safety characteristics of future reactor concepts and related fuel cycles, and long-term safety of deep geological repositories for nuclear wastes of all kind.
The work is being done on behalf of the Federal Government and in close cooperation with the Swiss nuclear utilities, the national waste management organization, Nagra, and the national regulatory authority, ENSI. It also includes scientific services for the nuclear power plants. Most of the research is connected with international projects on a multi- or bi-national cooperation basis.
Recent News from NES
The Hot Laboratory division (AHL) within PSI’s Nuclear Energy and Safety (NES) division continually upgrades and advances its analytical infrastructure to provide cutting-edge scientific service to PSI’s researchers and industrial customers. A new, fully automatable and highly flexible Ion Chromatograph (IC) furthers AHL’s efforts in sample miniaturization and extends the spectrum of destructive analytical capabilities to element and speciation specific analyses. With the new IC and its modern ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) facilities, AHL offers innovative scientific options for nuclear and general research. Moreover, speciation analyses by IC-ICP-MS for polyvalent inorganic water pollutants such as Cr or As and the acquisition of a new ICP-OES system (Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry) enable future autonomy in wastewater management.
Geological waste disposal, cement clay interaction
• A considerable reduction of HTO and 36Cl− was observed after 6 years interaction.
• The chloride flux showed a much stronger reduction compared to HTO.
• For HTO the relation between the De and the porosity in the clay part can be described using Archie's law.
• No complete clogging of the porosity was observed after 6 years interaction.
Decision support for car buyers: Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have developed a web tool called the Carculator that can be used to compare the environmental performance of passenger cars in detail.
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, on behalf of a research project funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), have studied how energy consumption by Swiss industry develops depending on energy prices. One result: Price increases for energy usually affect energy consumption only over the long term.
An interview on automotive power systems with Christian Bauer, a scientist at PSI's Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis who specialises in life cycle and sustainability analyses.
Petrol, diesel, fuel cell or electric – which is the automobile of the future? A PSI study has examined the overall climate impact of various vehicle engines in use today and also projected it to the year 2040.
Assessment of stress corrosion cracking incidents in Alloy 182 – reactor pressure vessel dissimilar metal welds
Several stress corrosion cracking (SCC) incidents recently occurred in Alloy 182 - reactor pressure vessel (RPV) dissimilar metal welds in boiling water reactors (BWR). These SCC cracks tend to grow towards the RPV due to weld microstructure and residual stress profiles and might grow into the RPV. They thus represent a serious potential safety concern. PSI has evaluated under which conditions such cracks could grow into the RPV and also developed SCC crack growth disposition curves for the RPV steels that can be used for safety assessments of such cracks. With these curves that were recently accepted as a new Code Case N-896 in the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, sufficient safety margins could be demonstrated for such crack configurations with the current inspection intervals of the periodic in-service inspection.
All matter in the universe is made of atoms and all atoms are made of particles. Spontaneous changes within atoms as well as collisions between atoms and surrounding particles are nuclear reaction processes guided by nuclear physics laws. To simulate these processes using computer models, probabilities for the various involved nuclear reactions are required. This is precisely the role of nuclear data: supply the computational models with evaluated quantities representing these nuclear reaction probabilities. Through this, nuclear data can effectively be seen as the fundamental link between nature and any computer simulation involving nuclear reactions. It is thus of primary importance to continuously improve knowledge on nuclear data. In that context, researchers at the laboratory for reactor physics and thermal-hydraulics have recently focused on the development and application of Bayesian frameworks combining both differential and integral experiments for the improvement of nuclear data. By considering the different experiments together, the aim is to achieve enhancements of the nuclear data evaluations while preserving the basic nuclear physics sum rules.
PSI researchers simulate and model large research facilities as well as experiments, for example, in the materials and biological sciences. Andreas Adelmann, head of PSI's Laboratory for Scientific Computing and Modelling, explains how they do it.