Joint Research Centre
Institute for Transuranium Elements
Press and Communication
Tel.: +49 (0)7247-951-275
The mission of ITU is to provide the scientific foundation for the protection of the European citizen against risks associated with the handling and storage of highly radioactive material. ITUís prime objectives are to serve as a reference centre for basic actinide research, to contribute to an effective safety and safeguards system for the nuclear fuel cycle, and to study technological and medical applications of radionuclides/actinides.
ITU works very closely with national and international bodies in the nuclear field, both within the EU and beyond, as well as with the nuclear industry. In addition to playing a key role in EU policy on nuclear waste management and the safety of nuclear installations, ITU is also heavily involved in efforts to combat illicit trafficking of nuclear materials, and in developing and operating advanced detection tools to uncover clandestine nuclear activities. ITU provides the expertise and access to the necessary special handling facilities for the study of the actinide elements, which is of relevance for the issues related to nuclear power generation and the radioactive waste treatment and disposal, but also for the advancement of science in general. Another key role is in the study and production of radionuclides used in the treatment of cancer.
|Institute for Transuranium Elements|
The JRC-ITU is comprised of seven scientific and one support departments, based in Karlsruhe (Germany, 330 staff) and Ispra (Italy, 70 staff). In total the Institute has a multidisciplinary team of more than 400 academic, technical and support staff. Its specialists have access to an extensive range of advanced facilities, many unavailable elsewhere in Europe. The Institute itself has more than 50 years of experience in the nuclear field. To foster the transfer of knowledge, the Institute encourages outside scientists to join its work through secondment and grants. Within the Commission, ITU provides vital support to policy makers, particularly in the areas of environment and energy. It also works in the fields of EU enlargement and external relations, addressing safety and security concerns with nuclear installations in Central and Eastern Europe. In the safeguards and non-proliferation area, it works closely with the Commission Directorate General Energy and Transport, operating on site laboratories in Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France). In the field of nuclear inspection, it supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the European External Action Service.
ITU work aims to improve understanding of the behaviour of nuclear fuel in reactors. Its Transuranus software can model nuclear fuel behaviour in a range of conditions. Work in this field covers both Western and Russian-designed reactors.
It also studies the long-term behaviour of spent nuclear fuel in long-term storage conditions and evaluates new concepts for nuclear waste management. ITU focuses on methods for reducing the quantity and radiotoxicity of highly radioactive waste, by separating out the long-lived nuclides and fabricating them into fuels and targets for transmutation.
The Institute works in support of the DG ENER, Nuclear Inspection and the IAEA Inspectorate to ensure that nuclear materials, which could be diverted for weapons use, do not fall into the wrong hands. ITU hosts the Safeguards Analytical Reference Laboratory, which provides analytical assistance and expertise on plutonium-handling facilities, and is developing new high-performance analytical tools for trace analysis. ITU also operates two on-site laboratories for the DG ENER, Nuclear Inspection at the major European reprocessing plants: La Hague in France and Sellafield in the United Kingdom.
DG ENER is responsible for environmental radioactivity monitoring. ITU supports this process, developing methodologies for determining traces of actinide isotopes in particles, in soils and in sludge, and validating them before they are adopted for use across Europe. Also in this field the Institute benefits from strong cooperation with research organisations throughout Europe.
As a spin-off from its radiochemistry activities, ITU has developed safe, reliable separation techniques for isolating specific radionuclides for targeting cancer cells.
To assure the safety of fuel cycle activities, a thorough knowledge is developed concerning physical, chemical and material properties of actinides, as a basis for work on all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. The Instituteís Actinide User Lab is an international centre open to outside users for specialised studies.