Laser-heating and radiance spectrometry for the study of nuclear materials in conditions simulating a nuclear power plant accident

Dario Manara*, Luca Soldi, Sara Mastromarino, Kostantinos Boboridis, Davide Robba, Luka Vlahovic, Rudy Konings

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Major and severe accidents have occurred three times in nuclear power plants (NPPs), at Three Mile Island (USA, 1979), Chernobyl (former USSR, 1986) and Fukushima (Japan, 2011). Research on the causes, dynamics, and consequences of these mishaps has been performed in a few laboratories worldwide in the last three decades. Common goals of such research activities are: the prevention of these kinds of accidents, both in existing and potential new nuclear power plants; the minimization of their eventual consequences; and ultimately, a full understanding of the real risks connected with NPPs. At the European Commission Joint Research Centre’s Institute for Transuranium Elements, a laserheating and fast radiance spectro-pyrometry facility is used for the laboratory simulation, on a small scale, of NPP core meltdown, the most common type of severe accident (SA) that can occur in a nuclear reactor as a consequence of a failure of the cooling system. This simulation tool permits fast and effective high-temperature measurements on real nuclear materials, such as plutonium and minor actinide-containing fission fuel samples. In this respect, and in its capability to produce large amount of data concerning materials under extreme conditions, the current experimental approach is certainly unique. For current and future concepts of NPP, example results are presented on the melting behavior of some different types of nuclear fuels: uranium-plutonium oxides, carbides, and nitrides. Results on the high-temperature interaction of oxide fuels with containment materials are also briefly shown.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere54807
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number130
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2017


  • Chemistry
  • Core meltdown
  • Corium
  • High temperature
  • Laser heating
  • Nuclear materials
  • Radiance spectroscopy
  • Severe accidents


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