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EMPIR project develops new instrument trialled at nuclear plant

Rows of yellow barrels of radioactive waste – ©iStock.com/wellphoto

Project research enables improvements in the safe disposal of radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear sites

EMPIR project ‘In situ metrology for decommissioning nuclear facilities’ (16ENV09, MetroDecom II) is using results from two earlier EMRP projects to enable nuclear site operators to characterise waste material rapidly and accurately, throughout all stages of the disposal process, by providing validated techniques for measuring radioactivity on site, and segregating and monitoring waste.

The two earlier EMRP projects are:

These two EMRP projects addressed the needs of the decommissioning process by the development and implementation of new radioactivity measurement techniques, instruments, calibration standards and reference materials.

The current EMPIR project aims to provide nuclear site operators with measurement techniques that can be used to measure radioactivity for planning decommissioning, for segregating and checking waste materials during demolition, and for monitoring the condition of waste packages in radioactive waste repositories.

As part of the projects, VTT MIKES, Finland's National Metrology Institute, has developed a novel instrument for measuring airborne radioactivity. It uses laser absorption spectroscopy to detect radiocarbon in the form of carbon dioxide.  It has been successfully trialled to monitor the radiocarbon stack emissions of the Loviisa nuclear power plant in Finland. This shows that this new technology is able of providing on-line measurement of gaseous radioactive emissions, while traditionally used methods require manual off-line laboratory analysis.

The work of these projects will ensure that knowledge is transferred to regulators, the nuclear industry, instrument makers and standardisation bodies, thus supporting safer decommissioning of European nuclear facilities.

EMPIR projects are co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

EMRP joint research projects are part of EURAMET’s European Metrology Research Programme. The EMRP is jointly funded by the EMRP participating countries within EURAMET and the European Union.


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