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IAEA Designates Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne as Collaborating Centre

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Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy (right) with EPFL's Vice President for Research, Andreas Mortensen (left) and Andreas Pautz, Head of EPFL's Laboratory for Reactor Physics and System Behaviour (middle) after signing the cooperation agreement, Vienna, 12 June 2019. (Photo: S. Krikorian/IAEA)

With a cooperation agreement signed today, the IAEA has designated the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, as an IAEA Collaborating Centre to support IAEA Member States in increasing their modelling and simulation capabilities in the field of advanced reactors.

 “The Collaborating Centre scheme is one of the IAEA’s key cooperation mechanisms, focusing on research, development, training and cooperation across Member States,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “I am happy that the proposal of the Swiss delegation during the IAEA annual General Conference last September has come to fruition and that we have a new Collaborating Centre. The research and development work will contribute to enhancing Member States’ capabilities in scientific and technology development of advanced reactors.”

The signing ceremony marks the beginning of a four-year period of close cooperation between EPFL and the IAEA in the area of Advanced reactor experiments and high-fidelity multi-physics nuclear simulation techniques for open-source code development and validation. The aim is to create an international network of research and academic institutions that will develop and validate a cutting-edge, open-source simulation software for the analysis of advanced nuclear power reactors. The work will focus on three major areas: modelling and simulations, experimental reactor physics and education and training. The planned activities will also assist the IAEA in implementing its own projects on advanced water-cooled reactors, small and medium-sized or modular reactors, fast reactors and gas-cooled reactors, thus supporting technology development in Member States.

"The designation as an IAEA Collaborating Centre is a great honour and a strong recognition of EPFL’s reputation, the high nuclear safety standards in our country, and the excellence of nuclear research in Switzerland”, said Andreas Mortensen, Vice President for Research at EPFL. “We will produce new, open and high-quality validation data at our CROCUS experimental reactor. This will put the EPFL reactor on the map of outstanding nuclear facilities and open fruitful pathways to global collaboration.”

Education and training are very important to prepare the next generation of nuclear workforce. The creation of such high performance simulation platforms with modern computational tools will attract many young professionals.
Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy

A holistic workplan

In the area of modelling and simulations, the creation of an open-source, consistent and organized platform for multi-physics analysis of nuclear reactors will create a flexible high performance computing tool. The platform should be particularly attractive for nuclear ‘newcomer’ countries that usually have limited resources for the deployment of often expensive commercial simulation codes. The participating experimental facilities, including EPFL’s CROCUS zero-power reactor, will contribute additional validation data for the developed models as well as hands-on experimentation. The associated education and training activities and newly developed learning materials will help to increase skills and competence on advanced reactor technologies, thus supporting human capacity building in Member States.

“Education and training are very important to prepare the next generation of nuclear workforce, and I am sure that creation of such high performance simulation platforms with modern computational tools will attract many young professionals,” said Mr Chudakov.

IAEA Collaborating Centres

Through the Collaborating Centres network, Member States can assist the IAEA by undertaking original research and development and training relating to nuclear science, technologies and their safe and secure applications. With the newly designated Collaborating Centre EPFL in Switzerland, there are now 36 active Collaborating Centres worldwide, with ongoing discussions in several countries to establish new Centres.  

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