Institute of Resource Ecology
The IRE conducts fundamental and applied research to protect humans and the environment from technical risks associated with production of energy and raw materials. The goal is to minimize risks originating in the nuclear fuel cycle, the production of energy in nuclear power plants and in the disposal of nuclear waste. In addition, our research addresses the improvement of safety, efficiency, and environmental compatibility of non-nuclear technical processes. The corresponding topics contribute to two programmes within the research field "Energy" of the Helmholtz-Association.
Programme: Nuclear Safety Research
Safety Research for Nuclear Waste Disposal.
Preventing the transition of radionuclides from the geo- to the biosphere requires knowledge of their mobility in the environment and of their (radio)ecological behaviour. Understanding and modelling these processes on their intrinsically very different scales is a challenging and highly interdisciplinary task which combines Mineralogy, Biochemistry and Biology.
The results will help to develop biochemically and radiochemically founded risk assessment schemes, remediation measures in areas effected by uranium mining, and help to assess the long term safety of final disposal sites for nuclear waste in geologic formations.
HZDR, together with other leading institutions in the field of radwaste disposal research in Germany, established the German association for repository research (DAEF). It intends to contribute to the final disposal of nuclear waste and to coordinate respective research in an efficient way.
Correspondingly, research activities in this Topic are grouped in the two themes:
- Long-lived Radionuclides in Biological Systems
Investigation of biochemical interactions of actinides with bacteria, nematodes and plants; research on the interactions of Uranium, Neptunium, Plutonium and Curium with dominant bacteria originating from potential radioactive waste repository sites; speciation of actinides in selected plants and algae.
- Long-lived Radionuclides in Disposal Sites
Characterization of the principal surface reactions and species governing the sorption of actinides and radionuclides onto biofilms, surfaces of minerals and rocks, soils and colloids, including their modelling.
Safety Research of Nuclear Reactors.
The strategic objective of this programme topic is to perform research on safety aspects of currently operating nuclear reactors and new reactor types being under development in the neighboring countries. It covers the development of methods for analyses of transients and postulated accidents, the investigation of ageing phenomena in materials and integrity of components, and the safety related aspects connected with the thermal fluid dynamics of cooling water or liquid metal flows.
The work is conducted in the following theme:
- Nuclear Reactor Safety
Development and application of reactor-physics and coupled neutron-kinetics / thermal hydraulics methods for safety analyses of nuclear reactors;
Qualification of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) codes for two-phase flows under conditions relevant to nuclear safety;
Investigation of ageing phenomena in structural materials connected with fast neutron irradiation;
Programme: Energy Efficiency, Materials and Ressources
Research in this Topic is focused on the description of the environmental relevant effects based on the process technologies of resource recovery. Our research activities are concentrated on the mobility of those elements in the environment that are eventually released during processes occurring along the raw mineral and raw metalliferous resource chain. Here, we concentrate on the research Theme:
- Particle-mediated transport in geosystems:
Quantifying particle-mediated transport and element mobility in geological media by means of radiotracer applications; enhancing process understanding for cost efficiency and risk assessment studies; establishing strong research bonds with activities in the field of resource technology.