Nuclear Energy and Safety Research DivisionThe Paul Scherrer Institute has a long tradition in energy research. With respect to nuclear energy, PSI has a unique position in Switzerland. This is due to its heavy infrastructure, namely the Hot Laboratory with so-called hot cells, well equipped and shielded zones for work and research on radioactive material. In addition, the nuclear energy division takes advantage of PSI's large facilities like the Swiss Light Source (SLS) and the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source (SINQ).
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.
Upcoming NES events
|Wed 1 Jul 2015||11:00-12:00
|Dr. E. Curti (LES)||Aqueous leaching and X-ray spectroscopy experiments on spent nuclear fuel: results from the "FIRST Nuclides" project||1435736269|
|Tue 25 Aug 2015||14:00-17:00
|Various speakers||NES Colloquium Jubilee||1440488331|
|Wed 23 Sep 2015||11:00-12:00
|Dr. B. Thien (LES)||Evolution of Icelandic hydrothermal systems: Implications for radioactive waste management||1442993990|
|Thu 16 Jul 2015||10:00-12:00
|Prof. R. Slaybaugh (UC Berkeley)||Hybrid Transport Methods for Shielding Challenges||1437057465|
|Mon 24 Aug 2015||09:30-10:30
|Dr. J.C. Gehin (ORNL)||CASL: Progress on Light Water Reactor Modeling and Simulation and Plans for its Second Phase||1440425633|
|Wed 16 Dec 2015||11:00-12:00
|Dr. G. Perret (LRS)
Dr. M. Streit (AHL)
|New concept for NES Colloquia||1450255534|
|Tue 19 Jan 2016||11:00-12:00
|Prof. Dr. A. Türler (PSI & UNIBE)||LRC: Laboratory of Radiochemistry||1453207781|
|Fri 12 Feb 2016||11:00-12:00
|Prof. Dr. H.-M. Prasser (PSI & ETHZ)||LTH: Laboratory for Thermal-Hydraulics||1455270383|
|Wed 30 Mar 2016||11:00-12:00
|Dr. M.A. Pouchon (LNM)||LNM: Overview, examples of recent highlights and outlook||1459320154|
|Mon 11 Apr 2016||11:00-12:00
|Prof. S. Churakov (PSI & Univ. Bern)||LES: Labor für Endlagersicherheit||1460384810|
|Mon 9 May 2016||09:00-17:30
|Tue 17 May 2016||11:00-12:00
|Dr. Stefan Hirschberg
PSI-LEA, Energy Divisions
|LEA: Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis||1463494788|
|Wed 15 Jun 2016||11:00-12:00
|Prof. Andreas Pautz (PSI & EPFL)||LRS: Overview, examples of recent highlights and outlook||1465983194|
|Tue 12 Jul 2016||11:00-12:00
|Prof. Dr. Ryugo Hayano (Univ. of Tokyo & CERN)||Fukushima Accident - Five years on||1468325067|
|Fri 15 Jul 2016||11:00-12:00
|Dr. Didier Gavillet (PSI)||AHL: Hot Labor Department||1468566717|
|Tue 8 Nov 2016||11:00-12:00
|E. Chiaveri, Spokesperson of n_TOF Collaboration||n_TOF at CERN: a bright future of neutrons||1478595291|
|Wed 24 Aug 2016||11:00-12:00
|Dr. G. Perret, PSI, NES-LRS||The Sound of neutrons||1472043919|
Current news from NES
22. February 2016Verschiedenes Energie und Umwelt KKW Sicherheit
Start der öffentlichen Auflage für eine Stilllegung der Kernanlage Proteus am Paul Scherrer Institut PSI
Die Kernanlage Proteus ist ein sogenannter Nullleistungsreaktor. Die thermische Leistung des Reaktors war im Betrieb auf maximal 1 kW begrenzt. Das heisst, es handelt sich um einen Versuchsreaktor, der bei so niedriger Leistung betrieben wurde, dass ein Kühlmittel nicht erforderlich war. Proteus ging 1968 in Betrieb. Das PSI möchte die Anlage stilllegen. Das Stilllegungsprojekt wird ab heute in den gesetzlich vorgeschriebenen, amtlichen Publikationsorganen öffentlich bekannt gemacht.
8. February 2016Miscellaneous 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. November 2015Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Matter and Material
When bridges, dam walls and other structures made of concrete are streaked with dark cracks after a few decades, the culprit is the so-called the
concrete disease. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and Empa have now solved the structure of the material produced in these cracks at atomic level - and have thereby discovered a previously unknown crystalline arrangement of the atoms.
8. October 2015Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety
Microscopic deviations from the ideal structure render uranium dioxide, the fuel commonly used in nuclear power plants, more resistant to radiation damage.
30. July 2015Energy and Environment Environment
In a deep geological repository, low and intermediate level radioactive waste from nuclear applications is solidified by cementitious materials for several thousand years. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have now demonstrated how cement limits the mobility of those radioactive substances. The new findings improve our understanding of the processes involved in this early phase of deep geological disposal.
8. January 2015Energy and Environment
A study by the Centre for Technology Assessment TA-Swiss, coordinated by the Paul Scherrer Institute, recommends further pursuing deep geothermal energy in Switzerland. The energy resources underground are vast, environmentally friendly to extract and available around the clock, the authors conclude. The earthquake risk and the cost of electricity production, which are still too high, however, remain challenges that society needs to weigh up against the advantages of deep geothermal energy.
27. November 2014Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety
These days, the Federal Office of Public Health distributes iodine tablets to the population living close to the Swiss nuclear power plants (NPP). The dispensing of iodine tablets within a radius of, now, fifty kilometres around NPP sites is aimed at protecting the residents from contamination with carcinogenic, radioactive iodine in the event of a severe nuclear accident.To make sure that as little radioactive iodine as possible gets into the environment as a result of a nuclear accident, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have for many years been developing a method that can be used in containment venting filters.
8. August 2014Energy and Environment
How susceptible is the global energy infrastructure to attacks by non-state actors? Has the number of attacks on this infrastructure actually increased of late? Which regions of the world are especially vulnerable? And which tactics do the attackers use? Scientists are looking to find the answers to these and other related questions with the aid of a database developed by researchers from the Center of Security Studies at ETH Zurich in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI.
14. July 2014Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety
In nuclear reactors, water is dissociated at the surface of the hot fuel elements, thereby producing hydrogen. This hydrogen can penetrate the fuel cladding surrounding the actual fuel and weaken it mechanically. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have been using neutrons and synchrotron radiation to study how the hydrogen gets into the cladding tube and what impact it can have once inside.
21. March 2014Energy and Environment Environment
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences joined forces within an EU project to investigate the basic properties of argillaceous rocks in a repository for high-level radioactive waste. As the results reveal, the insights gained so far for Opalinus Clay can be transferred also to the Boda Clay found in Hungary.
7. March 2014Energy and Environment Environment
With ecoinvent, the Paul Scherrer Institute and its partners at ETH Zurich, ETH Lausanne, Empa and Agroscope have been running the world’s leading database for life cycle inventories for over ten years. The latest ecoinvent version 3 collects new data in areas such as electricity generation, agriculture, transport, mining and chemicals. In the power sector, which is significant for life cycle assessments, the database now covers over 80 per cent of the global production. And technology that has not been considered thus far such as enhanced geothermal systems is to be included in ecoinvent from now on. The result is more accurate ecological assessments of products and services
15. January 2014Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety
Chemical reactions will change the nature of the deep repository and the surrounding rock (clay rock); that much is certain. But to what extent and with what impact on safety? Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute are looking to answer this question with the aid of a combination of experiments and computer simulations.
19. September 2013Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety
Without computer simulations, the operation of nuclear power stations would be very difficult. Whether it is a question of installing new components or conducting safety tests, virtually everything has to be calculated and analysed on the computer first. At the Laboratory for Reactor Physics and Systems Behaviour of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, computational models and methodologies are developed with precisely this in mind. Through this, PSI researchers also act as an independent partner to the national regulatory authority ENSI and contribute thereby to support safe operation of the Swiss nuclear power plants.
5. September 2013Energy 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.
29. August 2013Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) are currently involved in an international project aimed at reconstructing what happened to the reactor units during the nuclear accident at the Japanese nuclear power station, Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011. In particular, the estimate of the core end-state will help the owner of the damaged plant, the Tokyo Electricity Power Company (TEPCO) to plan the removal of components from the reactor containment and the final decontamination. Besides, the exercise is intended to contribute to further refinement of the computer programs used to perform nuclear accident simulations
25. July 2013Energy 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 2013Energy 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.
26. February 2013Energy and Environment
Switzerland is facing a potentially radical restructuring of its energy system in the light of the Federal Government's Energy Strategy 2050. One particular challenge associated with achieving the goals of the Strategy is realizing an electricity supply sector that responds to uncertain developments in electricity demand, national climate targets and the decision to phase out nuclear power. In order to investigate options for this transformation of the electricity sector, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) are developing and analyzing a range of alternative scenarios of the future electricity system in Switzerland. These scenarios are developed, quantified and explored with an analytical tool built at PSI that simultaneously examines long-term developments (to 2050 and beyond) while accounting for seasonal and daytime fluctuations in electricity demand and supply.