Nuclear Energy and Safety Research Division

The 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

Date Time
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
Various speakers NES PhD-Day 1462787145
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
Wed 14 Sep 2016 11:00-12:00
Dr. J. Krepel Molten Salt Reactor: sustainable and safe reactor for the future? 1473835780
Wed 12 Oct 2016 11:00-12:00
Dr. D. Schumann Exotic radionuclides: what are they good for? 1476254991
Wed 23 Nov 2016 11:00-12:00
Dr. W. Schenler Global prices and regional variations in current reactor technology: what are the contributing factors? 1479887406
Tue 13 Dec 2016 11:00-12:00
Dr. N. Kivel Characterization and analysis of radioactive materials with mass spectroscopy 1481615413
Tue 18 Oct 2016 09:00-12:30
Prof. A. Pautz NES Präsentiert: Kompetenzen und Highlights 1476784138
Thu 24 Nov 2016 15:00-16:00
M. Mori (Gunma Uni)
T. Iuni (Kyoto Uni)
Fukushima Accident: off-site environmental remediation 1479985338
Thu 24 Nov 2016 11:00-12:00
Dr. T. Kober, PSI, NES-LEA
Dr. E. Panos, PSI, NES-LEA
The World Energy Scenarios 2016 1479981354

Current News from NES

29. November 2016

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Simulations for More Efficient Power Stations

Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety

In most cases, electricity is generated when water is heated and transformed into vapour. Vapour bubbles in the water play a decisive role in this process. Using computer simulation, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have succeeded in representing the behaviour of vapour bubbles – and in making their performance more calculable.

19. October 2016


Radioactive targets produced at PSI enable improving the Big Bang Theory

One of the long-lasting unsolved problems in Nuclear Astrophysics is the so-called "Cosmological Li Problem", i.e. the large discrepancy between the primordial 7Li abundance predicted by models of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and the one inferred from astronomical observation. The study of the production/destruction rates of the radioactive precursor 7Be is one of the clues for solving this problem. Scientists from PSI were able to manufacture two highly radioactive 7Be-targets for the measurement of the 7Be(n,α) cross section at n_TOF CERN. The activity was extracted from the cooling water of the neutron spallation source SINQ. As a result of the experiment, the investigated reaction could be ruled out as responsible for the problem. The innovative work on isotope and target production as well as the new measurement techniques specifically developed for this kind of experiments make further investigations on this "hot topic" feasible. The work has been published in Physical Review Letters and has been selected for the Editor’s Suggestion of the corresponding issue.

10. October 2016

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Molten salt reactors – exploring an alternative

Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety

At the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, a small group of scientists is using theoretical models to explore an alternative for future nuclear reactors: so-called molten salt reactors. This helps to secure Switzerland’s expertise regarding globally relevant questions in the area of nuclear energy and reactor safety, for today and tomorrow.

28. September 2016

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Infrared imaging sheds new light on the condensation/evaporation process

Researcher at PSI (NES/LTH) have brought modern infrared technologies into their large thermal-hydraulic facility, called LINX, to obtain insights into condensation/evaporation process occurring under thermodynamic conditions resembling those of a nuclear power plant containment during a severe accident scenario. In such a scenario, condensation is of prime importance to control the thermodynamic state of the containment. It affects the pressure history, the overall gas (steam, hydrogen) and fission product distribution within this last barrier. Better understanding of these phenomena under accident conditions is essential to properly predict the accident evolution.

14. September 2016

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Post Irradiation Examination of MEGAPIE – How radiochemical analytics helps looking inside a high-power liquid metal spallation target

PSI radiochemists now finished the radiochemical analysis of the residue nuclei production in the Lead-Bismuth Eutectic (LBE) of the MEGAPIE target. Twenty – mostly safety-relevant – radionuclides could be identified and quantified. Comparisons with theoretical predictions show acceptable agreement in most cases, but also considerable discrepancies for some selected radionuclides. Moreover, the scientists learned that noble elements like Gold, Silver, Mercury or Rhodium are homogeneously distributed in the bulk LBE, while others, sensitive to reduction/oxidation (Lanthanides, Iodine, Chlorine), tend to accumulate at exposed positions like vessel walls and free surfaces. These results will help to improve models and codes for predictions and, thus, will improve the safety of existing and future facilities.

26. August 2016

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The chemical state of 79Se in spent nuclear fuel

An interdisciplinary study conducted at different PSI laboratories (LES, AHL, LRS, SYN) in collaboration with Studsvik AB (Sweden) demonstrates that selenium originating from fission in light water reactors is tightly bound in the crystal lattice of UO2. This finding has positive consequences for the safety assessment of high-level radioactive waste repository planned in Switzerland, as it implies (contrary to previous assumptions) that the safety-relevant radionuclide 79Se will be released at extremely low rates during aqueous corrosion of the waste in a deep-seated repository.

26. July 2016

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Designer nuclide for medical applications

Medical Science Human Health Radiopharmacy

Researchers at the PSI have for the first time used a cyclotron to produce the radionuclide scandium-44 in a quantity and concentration as needed for medical treatment. With that, they have achieved the first precondition for scandium-44 to be used one day for medical tests in hospitals.

9. June 2016

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One atom at a time

Matter and Material

At the PSI, the Heavy Elements Research Group explores the exotic, unstable atoms at the end of the periodic table of elements. The dream: to discover one day the island of stability that could exist beyond the elements charted so far on the chemists' map.