Research work on the decommissioning of nuclear facilities within the scope of the program-oriented funding III of the Helmholtz Association

Initial situation
Within the scope of the  Program-orientated funding III of the Helmholtz Association research on the subject of “decommissioning of nuclear facilities” is carried out by the department “Decommissioning of Conventional and Nuclear Buildings” of the TMB institute.

In Germany, the decommissioning of nuclear facilities has been undertaken for decades. To date, several nuclear facilities have been decommissioned successfully. However, the techniques and procedures applied are subject to further development. Since Germany's central premise is to decommission the entire fleet of large power reactors at the same time, further research in this field is urgently required to optimize existing techniques. Additionally, scenarios for optimal decommissioning processes, e.g. from hot to cool areas - are to be developed and tested. Then, concepts for the required approval stages will be developed and suitable procedures and technologies will be classified and standardized. The decommissioning of nuclear facilities involves several procedures and technologies to handle concrete, steel, and other installations with respect to decontaminating, crushing, providing post-treatment, and to pack and dispose of the materials accordingly.

Basically, all problems occurring during decommissioning processes will be assessed and solved in direct cooperation with the industry partners. The current funding period looks at standardizing the decommissioning of nuclear facilities. This is a significant contribution to the security and sustainability of the decommissioning nuclear facilities.

Research scope and objective at TMB
The standardization of the decommissioning of nuclear facilities allows to realize the factors influencing the critical path at an early stage and to minimize the effect of a prolonged decommissioning phase. In the years to come, the existing decommissioning activities need to be analysed and processed. The following topics require standardization:

  • Decontamination (surfaces and structures)
  • Separation procedures (concrete, steel, high-grade steel)
  • Crushing procedures for highly-reinforced concrete
  • Remote-handling and automation of the procedures (e.g.an automated guided vehicle system for free measuring)
  • Analysis of approval stages
  • Analysis of time and cost increasing factors