Institute of Resource Ecology
The Institute of Resource Ecology (IRE) performs research to protect humans and the environment from hazards caused by pollutants resulting from technical processes that produce energy and raw materials.
Treating technology and ecology as a unity is the major scientific challenge in assuring the safety of technical processes and gaining their public acceptance. IRE investigates the ecological risks exerted by radioactive and non-radioactive metals in the context of nuclear waste disposal, the production of energy in nuclear power plants and in processes along the value chain of metalliferous raw materials.
Spectroscopic, microscopic, and microbiological methods are implemented in controlled areas allowing radiochemical studies that can be performed only at a few places in Europe. The Institute runs two stations at the Rossendorf Beamline, at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble (France), dedicated to X-ray based absorption, emission and diffraction.
The gained knowledge contributes to the following two Programs within the Research Field "Energy" of the Helmholtz-Association:
Program: Nuclear Waste Management, Safety and Radiation Research
Research and development focuses on the assessment and reduction of risks related to the nuclear fuel cycle, particularly the disposal of nuclear waste, and the production of energy in nuclear power plants. Accordingly work in this Program addresses two Topics.
Nuclear Waste Management.
Major goal is a better understanding of fundamental processes defining transport and accumulation of radiotoxic elements in the geo- and biosphere including the food chain. Our research advances the knowledge on the molecular scale in aqueous systems, in rocks and soils, and at the interface between geo- and biosystems. This covers the areas of spectroscopic identification and characterization of chemical species, the development and application of chemico-physical models from the molecular to the meter scale, and the determination and evaluation of thermodynamic, kinetic and transport parameters for such models. Moreover, the influence of biota, ranging from bacteria to higher multicellular organisms, on the migration process is investigated.
Our research focuses on the safety aspects of current and future reactors to advise policy and to effectively influence the international safety standards and practices. This requires sound research on the development of methods for analyses of transients and postulated accidents.
Experimental work has to demonstrate how irradiation-induced damage of reactor materials at the nanometer scale affects the mechanical properties and the safety of components.
Program: Energy Efficiency, Materials and Resources
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.
A brief review of the History of the institute may also be of interest.
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