Nuclear Fission Technology, Facilities and Material
ENEA engages in research and development in the nuclear fission sector − an area of the national scientific panorama in which it has always played a primary role, given the skills and experience gained since its inception. The activities are focused on the research and development of advanced nuclear systems, development of techniques for radiological characterization of nuclear materials, correct management and disposal of radioactive waste, reactor system modelling, and research and development in the field of ionising radiation, also for the production of radiopharmaceuticals. Decreto Legislativo (legislative decree) 101/2020 confers upon ENEA the role of manager of the Servizio Integrato nazionale for the collection and management of radioactive waste deriving from medical, industrial, and scientific activities.
ENEA carries out these activities within the Nuclear Fission Technology, Facilities and Materials Division of the FSN Department, pooling the instrumental and human resources of the Research Centres of Casaccia, Frascati and Saluggia – an impressive array of experiences and multidisciplinary skills, which is practically unique in the national context.
The role played by the Division is of considerable importance in the fields of nuclear fission, use of ionising radiation, and manipulation and radiochemical characterization of materials. The Division guarantees that its technical and scientific activities shall be of excellence. These include:
- management and operation of the two main national research reactors (TRIGA-RC1 and RSV-TAPIRO) at the ENEA Casaccia Research Center;
- management and operation of the Calliope gamma Irradiation Facility at the ENEA Casaccia Research Center;
- management and operation of the Radiological Characterization of nuclear materials Laboratory (authorized to use radioactive sources, in accordance with the “Nulla Osta cat. A” for the use of ionizing radiation sources issued by the Ministry of Economic Development, pursuant to art. 28 of Legislative Decree 230/95), affiliated with ENTRAP, the European organisation of all reference laboratories for the radiological characterization of radioactive waste from the EU Member States;
- research e applications in the field of ionizing and not ionizing radiations at the Casaccia facilities, for research activities and for the qualification of components and materials of the aerospace and nuclear industries and for High Energy Physics (HEP) experiments;
- coordination and management of the Servizio Integrato nazionale (Integrated national Service) for collection and management of radioactive waste of medical, industrial and research origin, through a framework agreement with the company of which it is a shareholder, NUCLECO S.p.A., and accredited operators;
- technological development of methods, processes, components and systems pertaining to nuclear fission plants for the sectors of nuclear security, current-generation and advanced nuclear reactors as well as closure of nuclear fuel cycles;
- modelling and simulation regarding the reactor system and advanced control and protection systems;
- research and development of infrastructures suitable for production of radiopharmaeuticals for nuclear medicine centres, using neutronic irradiation techniques;
- technical training, to enhance sectoral skills bases while providing information and outreach to the public at large and stakeholders, for greater knowledge of the peaceable uses of nuclear energy;
- technical, scientific and institutional support, through the agency of highly specialised technical operatives for decommissioning nuclear installations and construction of the national geological disposal facility for radioactive waste, in collaboration with Sogin S.p.A.
The Division makes use of nuclear research reactors for experiments in materials physics and nuclear medicine, as well as experimental facilities for testing and certifying materials, components and systems. It also develop and makes use of innovative instrumentation for analysis and radiochemical characterization of nuclear materials and radioactive waste, for classification of manipulation processes and for development of innovative radiological characterization methods.
The mobile laboratory, Laboratorio Mobile di Radiochimica e Caratterizzazione Radiologica, enables Italian compliance with the provisions of the Additional Protocol to the Agreement on Verification of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons. It ensures in situ intervention to back up management of critical issues in the nuclear field, with security and safeguard actions.
Skills and infrastructural equipment ensure technical, scientific and operational support for public administration bodies, as well as the functions of technology transfer to industry. The Division is a very highly qualified technical and scientific body, in a position to foster participation in working groups linked to international nuclear organisations (IAEA, OECD), joint activities with Technical and Scientific Support Organizations (TSO) and research programmes funded by EURATOM, for generation IV nuclear power and for secure management and definitive disposal of radioactive waste.
The Division, on behalf of ENEA and of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, represents Italy at the EURAD Program, European Joint Program on Radioactive Waste Management, that aims to support the Member States of the European Union to implement the Directive 2011/70/Euratom (radioactive waste Directive establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste) by acting and collaborating with the respective national programs, both in the field of radioactive waste research and technical support.
The Division also represents Italy at the ERDO Association, which brings together the Organizations operating in the nuclear field belonging to 8 different countries, with the aim of identifying common solutions for the management of radioactive waste, also favouring the possible realization of shared regional repositories.