Selection of our Projects
We have compiled a selection of projects from our subject areas of reactor safety, decommissioning and dismantling, storage, disposal, safety, radiation protection and environment and energy, so that you can get an idea of what our work as a research and expert organisation looks like in concrete terms.
Many countries expect Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to play their part in helping them become less dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation. However, most SMR concepts are still at different stages of development. While safety aspects already play a role from the first sketches of ideas, security measures (required protection against malicious acts) are often only given a secondary role. Therefore, in a research project that has just started, GRS is dealing with the characteristics of physical protection and computer security of different SMR concepts and to what extent security requirements and concepts of conventional nuclear facilities can be applied to SMRs. In this way, GRS wants to build up expertise and identify open questions in the application of existing rules and regulations.
On 4 August 2020, a devastating explosion occurred in the port of Beirut, the cause of which was the improper storage of chemicals. After Germany had already supported Lebanon in the management of chemicals in the aftermath of this explosion, the Lebanese authorities approached Germany with an additional request for support in the retrieval and safe storage of radioactive waste. Within the framework of a cooperation project funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV), the responsible Lebanese authorities are supported by experts from the BMUV and an interdisciplinary GRS team from the departments Radiation Protection and Security.
In the project, the GRS research team developed a central database for all information on water supply facilities in Germany that is relevant for radiation protection.
Research reactors differ considerably in design and use from commercial reactors in nuclear power plants. GRS researchers are looking at how these differences affect the safety of research reactors.
In the current Covid 19 pandemic, airborne aerosols that contain viruses are considered to be an important transmission route, especially in insufficiently ventilated rooms. To be able to make a sound assessment of the related risk of infection and to derive appropriate recommendations for action, the aerosol behaviour as well as representative ambient conditions must be considered in detail and realistically. Within the framework of the AeroCoV research project, scientists of GRS have applied the COCOSYS simulation code – which was developed and validated for the analysis of accidents and severe accidents in containments of nuclear power plants – for the first time for calculating the dispersion of SARS-CoV-2 aerosols.
Claystone, salt rock or granite – it is in one of these three host rocks that a repository for high-level radioactive waste is to be constructed in Germany. This is where the waste is to be safely contained for one million years. In a current project carried out in GRS's geoscientific laboratory, research is being conducted into how the properties of claystone formations are changed by the waste emplaced.
The mineral graphite is used in some types of reactors and can be activated by neutron radiation, i.e. converted into radioactive isotopes. In order to select a suitable disposal option, the graphite must be thoroughly examined radiologically. However, many measuring methods are relatively costly and in turn produce new radioactive waste themselves. A team of researchers from GRS and the University of Cologne is therefore developing a method with which reactor graphite can be characterised quickly and reliably.
In a repository, geotechnical barriers contribute to the safe and long-term isolation of radioactive waste in the deep underground. The "sandwich" sealing system with its alternating sequence of sealing and filter segments is currently being tested as a geotechnical barrier in a large-scale experiment. GRS has assumed the technical leadership of the project at the international Mont Terri rock laboratory.
GRS is currently conducting research in the HEAF projectof the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) on the subject of fire protection in nuclear installations. The CSNI is an international body of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It coordinates all NEA projects dealing with the safety of nuclear installations.
Coordinated by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA), a new international research project has been launched to examine further the accident sequences at Fukushima Daiichi. Together with 21 institutions from 11 countries, Germany - represented by GRS - will also participate in the project "Analysis of Information from Reactor Buildings and Containment Vessels of Fukushima Daiichi NPS" (ARC-F). The three-year project is led by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA).