The safe phase-out of nuclear energy represents one significant aspect of Germany’s energy transition policy (“Energiewende”). The Program “Nuclear Waste Management, Safety and Radiation Research” (NUSAFE) covers safety aspects regarding the management of nuclear waste (Topic 1) as well as the operation of nuclear power plants in Germany and beyond (Topic 2). NUSAFE scientists address scientific and technical issues being specific for the German situation, thereby making use of advanced experimental and computational infrastructures and cooperating within national and international research networks. NUSAFE meets the challenges regarding maintaining and developing competences by educating and training young scientists in the field of nuclear sciences.
TOPIC 1: NUCLEAR WASTE MANAGEMENT
The NUSAFE Program covers fundamental and applied research related to the safe disposal of nuclear waste in deep geological repositories. It contributes by its expertise in radiogeochemistry and -biogeochemistry to the nuclear waste disposal safety case by applying unique experimental, instrumental and simulation tools. By this, it assists the currently starting site selection process in Germany and the comparative characterization of possible repository concepts. NUSAFE develops interdisciplinary research programs combining Helmholtz competencies from the Research Fields Energy and Earth & Environment. In addition, NUSAFE investigates innovative strategies and technologies for the decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear facilities and the predisposal management of radioactive wastes in Germany. Scientists furthermore contribute to the German IAEA Safeguard Support Program.
TOPIC 2: REACTOR SAFETY
The assessment and improvement of the safety of nuclear reactors together with the protection of the population against radiation exposure constitute strategic long-term goals of the Helmholtz reactor safety research even after termination of nuclear electricity generation in Germany. The research in this topic concentrates on the one hand on the development of a coupled simulation tool that covers the complete calculation chain from the creation of input data over the conduction of core analyses until the analysis of design basis accidents. On the other hand, the research is dedicated to the further development of the international Severe Accident Management based on an improved plant-specific modeling of the possible radiological source term coupled with specific emergency management measures.
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