Research and Development

The main topics for research and developments are:
- Nuclear safety research,
- New reactor systems,
- Man-machine interface and applications,
- Dosimetry, health physics, environmental analysis,
- Nuclear safety analysis, safety and security issues,
- Radiation chemistry and its applications,
- Nuclear reactions and methods for analysis,
- Surface chemistry and catalysis

Additionally:   Operation of the Budapest Research Reactor

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Nuclear safety research:
- Two program systems have been developed for the reactor physics calculations of the rather unique hexagonal core of VVER-type reactors: KARATE serves for core design calculations while KIKO-3D solves three-dimensional space-time dynamic problems  ( => more)
- The basis of thermal hydraulics investigations is the PMK-2 facility, an integral-type scaled-down model of the primary and partly  of  the secondary circuits of Paks NPP. Recently a significant modernization of instrumentation was performed which enables to perform experiments on water hammer conditions and on flow mixing in VVER-440 fuel assemblies. (more)
- A research project was launched in the early 1990´s on studying VVER fuel behaviour in accident conditions. Various complex measurements can be performed at the CODEX (Core Degradation Experiment) facility for the integral test of non-irradiated small fuel bundles ( => more).
- The embrittlement and ageing of reactor vessels and their projected lifetime are estimated by determining the influence of radiation damage on the fracture material properties corresponding to the thick-wall material and the actual temperature. AEKI has been participating in all relevant EU Framework program projects and also in IAEA coordinated research projects aiming better understanding of radiation embrittlement or use of Master Curve. 
- As the accident management of mitigating severe accidents at Paks NPP is based on in-vessel retention, the efficiency of external cooling plays a decisive role. The CERES facility of AEKI has been serving for the experimental test of cooling efficiency under most conservative circumstances. ( => more).

New reactor systems
- Hungary started the preparations for constructing new nuclear units at the Paks site. AEKI has been contributing in several fields of the preparations (updating the safety regulation, preparing the tender document, preparing environmental and site licences)
- As to Generation-4 reactors, AEKI participates in EU HPLWR project related to studying core physics, themal hydraulics, materials and safety of Supercritical Water Reactors. Recently the research has been extended to fast reactor systems, especially to the gas cooled fast reactor (GFR). Hungary, together with the Czech Republic and Slovakia applies for hosting the GFR demonstration reactor ALLEGRO. (=> more)

Man-machine interface and applications
- Since 1982 the on-line core monitoring system VERONA has been developed in different versions to continuously monitor the detailed 3D power distribution within the core of VVER reactors by combining measurements and theoretical modelling.
 - CERTA-VITA was developed for surveying the actual safety parameter displays of every unit of Paks NPP at the Budapest headquarters of HAEA. Furthermore, a Plant Safety Monitoring and Assessment system was elaborated in the framework of an international R&D project supported by OECD NEA for facilitating the introduction of symptom/oriented EOPs (Emergency Operating Procedures).   (=> more)

Dosimetry, health physics, environmental analysis
 - Dosimetry and health physics have more than 40 years tradition in AEKI. The assessment of environmental consequences of potential radioactive releases in the framework of safety analyses is the main goal of this field. AEKI developed the environmental monitoring system at the Budapest Research Reactor and at Paks NPP. Mobile laboratories were also developed to record dose rates. 
 - A simulator was developed to follow the spreading radioactive substances in the environment at accident conditions. The simulator is installed at the National Civil Defence Centre and at the CERTA centre of HAEA.
 - The specific knowledge in nuclear measurement techniques led AEKI to develop and manufacture on-board space dosimetric and other space electronic devices. (=> more)

Nuclear safety analysis, safety and security issues
- AEKI is mainly specialised in DBA (Design Basis Accident) analysis, safety analyses are performed basically in the framework of contracts with Paks NPP Co. Extended design basis accident analysis was performed for the safety reassessment of the Paks NPP in the framework of the AGNES project (1991-1994) and recently in connection with the preparation of the Final Safety Analysis Report of Paks NPP, covering thermal hydraulic transients, reactivity and power distribution anomalies, loss of coolant accidents, anticipated transients without scram pressurized thermal shock. Based on AGNES results a safety enhancement programme has been carried out at Paks NPP. AEKI participated in the design of various technical modifications by providing corresponding safety analyses. When the safety enhancement programme was completed AEKI performed a complete DBA analysis of the modified plant (2002-2004).
 - Based on the accumulated experience in safety matters, AEKI strongly contributed to the after-Fukushima stress-test of Paks NPP.
- To the enforcement of the Non-proliferation Agreement IAEA introduced a Nuclear Safeguards Agreement, which specifies the method development of analytical techniques for safeguards verifications. To assure these aims method developments and updating for national and international control of nuclear (fissile) materials have been carried out at MTA EK. Method developments have also been carried out for analysis of confiscated and smuggled nuclear materials. Non-destructive (gamma spectrometry, neutron coincidence counting system) and destructive (ICP-MS) techniques are used for this purpose. (=> more)
  - Basic studies have been performed in the field of solid state dosimetry. Various materials have been developed, and the principal activation-deactivation processes of the thermal luminescence have been analysed. The study of radiation stimulated emission processes commenced and usage of retrospective dosimetry started recently with respect to perspective nuclear security applications.
  - PuBe sources represent a nuclear safety and safeguards issue due to their nuclear (fissile) material content. IKI developed high-resolution gamma-spectrometric and neutron coincidence methods for the precise determination of Pu contents and applied these methods for over 100 PuBe sources. (=> more)

Radiation chemistry and its applications
- The Laboratory recently contributes with its radiation chemical possibilities to the development of Advanced Oxidation Technologies for purification of wastewaters. In these technologies short lived aggressive chemical intermediates induce the degradation of harmful non-biodegradable organic pollutants, like pesticides, hormones, pharmaceuticals. In order to show the advantages of wastewater treatment with ionizing radiation a demonstration equipment was built in the frame of an IAEA Technical Cooperation project.
 - The Institute often helps the industrial irradiation facilities in Hungary and through IAEA worldwide by lending service for high-dose dosimetry mainly determining dose-maps  (=> more)

Nuclear reactions and methods for analysis
- The prompt-gamma activation analysis (PGAA) methodology had continuously been developed, and became quantitative for most of the elements to recent days. A great improvement in the sensitivity was attained by installing the so-called cold neutron source. The Laboratory became one of the most attractive facilities of the Budapest Neutron Centre. The scientists of the PGAA facility participate in several broad international co-operations in archaeometry, geology, material and nuclear sciences. Furthermore a part of its operation time is reserved for direct international access supported by direct EU funds (NMI3, CHARISMA and ERINDA).
 - The most recent development at the PGAA-NIPS facility was started within the EU supported ANCIENT CHARM project for measurements of 3D elemental composition. The setup was constructed from a neutron tomography (NT) and a double (neutron, gamma) collimated PGAI(maging) detector. Based on the operation experiences the most successful project of the PGAA-NIPS experimental station is the in-beam catalysis service, which is based on the collaboration between IKI and the Fritz-Haber Institute.
 - The PGAA facility has also been used for measuring nuclear-structure and -data using the (n,g) reactions. This activity has been supported by EU Access programs of EU FP6 EFNUDAT and currently EU FP7 ERINDA. The most recent development is the foundation of the TANDEM project which is an International effort on Transuranium Actinide Nuclear Data Evalutaion and Measurements. A part of the effort is devoted on the development of the Evaluated Gamma-ray Activation File (EGAF) which is based on the PGAA library and will serve as an input for Monte Carlo calculations such as MCNP.
- Beside the development of the PGAA a great deal of efforts were paid to set up a database recognised worldwide for nuclear model calculations. The results were summarized at 3 stages and called Reference Input Parameter Library (RIPL I-III) and now it serves as starting or reference point for many nuclear model calculation for GEN-IV reactors, Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS) and Nuclear Astrophysics. ( => more)

Surface chemistry and catalysis 
-The Laboratory acquired state of the art equipments in the 1980’s (mass, infra-red, and X-ray photoelectron spectrometers). Utilizing the possibilities it became a leading laboratory in the field of heterogeneous catalysis in Hungary. Environmental catalysis started in 1990 by studying DENOX reaction as well as the elimination of volatile organic compounds. As a continuation presently green chemistry is planned to develop along with environmental catalysis. One of the most important research topics is Au catalysis, which means the preparation, characterization and application in selective reactions of the nanostructured gold catalysts.
 -A novel, common research topic with the Radiation Chemistry Laboratory is the combination of catalytic and high energy radiation induced reactions for the purification of process wastewaters, supported by Swiss-Hungarian cooperation. They continue the study of catalytic processes which belong the alternative energy area, such as biodiesel production with catalytic hydrogenation, CO removal by PROX, methane dry reforming which are parts of the European research program. The application of tracer compounds in catalytic investigation further is our unique technique in Hungary. (=> more)

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The reactor serves as a research device for solid-state physics, material tests, radiography, activation analysis and biological research, ensuring also the production of radioactive isotopes for diagnostic and other medical purposes. The reconstruction and upgrading was completed in 1992. The Budapest Neutron Centre (BNC) has been established for reactor utilization in basic and applied research. BNC has an international advisory board, and is supported by EU NMI3 projects since more than a decade. The host institute is AEKI.

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A longer version of the description of the past and recent research and development activities of the Centre is also available in the Documents section.