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Physique et Radiochimie de l’energie Nucléaire

Activities related to energy nuclear revolve around several questions, such as the production of nuclear energy using new options in the purpose of minimizing waste generation or the depletion of uranium resources ; improving reactor safety ; optimizing the management of fissile materials in reactor facilities. They rely on hard disciplines like reactor physics, nuclear physics, or radiochemistry, and can sometimes turn into interdisciplinary projects by extending them to cover sociological, economic, or other aspects. These research activities are also of public concern : they can help shed scientific and academic light on controversial nuclear questions such as reactor safety, nuclear energy’s place in the energy mix, and the management of radioactive waste.

The nuclear energy topic at IPN can draw on the skills of the PACS (Physics de l’Aval du Cycle et Spallation*) groups, the Radiochemistry group, and the Accelerator Division.

The potential of these future options is assessed through the study of systems and scenarios. These are based on research into different types of reactor and/or of innovative fuels. There are multiple assessment criteria and these must be accurately quantified as a strategic decisional aid, as regards both the development of industrial aspects and the ambitious research programmes. Our approach is one of not according prior privilege to any niche. Thus the various systems and cycles of the future are considered : the thorium cycle, ADS (Accelerator Driven Systems) transmutation, regenerative reactors, etc.

Studying systems and scenarios can help orient physics, chemistry, and accelerator research, but the studies use base data that still needs measuring or improving. Thus the IPN is engaged in upstream research concerning various systems and innovative fuels.

  • reliability of high intensity accelerators dedicated to subcritical reactors (ADS).
  • measurement of nuclear data in relation to the thorium cycle, residual power, transmutation of minor actinides. The issue is one of decreasing the uncertainty inherent to digital simulation, finding a better model of how radionuclides evolve in the reactor—notably by improving our understanding of fundamental phenomena—and improving the accuracy of the data governing certain aspects of reactor safety, such as residual power
  • synthesis of thin actinide targets by electro-deposition in non-aqueous media and of uranium carbide targets for irradiation in SPIRAL2.
  • manufacture, chemical behaviour, and reprocessing of solid fuels (thorium oxides) and liquids (molten salts).
  • study of the physico-chemical properties of actinides (in biological media or cementitious matrices) in order to better understand and predict their behaviour in the geosphere and the biosphere

Lastly, there has been some systematic reflection on the energy world of the 21st century and on the place nuclear energy occupies in the energy mix, notably within the context of the simplified Cosime2050 model.



Institut de Physique Nucléaire Orsay - 15 rue Georges CLEMENCEAU - 91406 ORSAY (FRANCE)
UMR 8608 - CNRS/IN2P3

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