The research programmes conducted by IRSN are closely linked to its expert appraisal missions. Nuclear facility safety, health, crisis situation management, environment monitoring and protection, security and non-proliferation of nuclear materials: whatever the field of activity concerned, the research results provide the Institute’s experts with fresh knowledge enabling them to better assess, in total independence, the risks and the mechanisms developed to address these risks.
Upstream of this essentially finalised research, the exploratory research is designed to investigate the relevance of new concepts and new research channels for informing the choices to be made in the future. After being selected by an internal Institute assessment committee, five exploratory research projects were launched in 2021. They involve the use of learning algorithms for the estimation of neutron spectra, the development of a method for measuring the deposition flux of submicron atmospheric particles, the manufacture of an irradiated fuel simulant, the study of the mechanisms of transcriptional and translational implementation and regulation after low-dose exposure to ionising radiation, and the study of the biomolecular factors involved in salivary complications in the treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer coupled with the improvement of dose characterisation in the salivary glands.
Faced with the complexity of the topics dealt with and the extent of the experimental resources required, IRSN conducts its research in partnership, in particular in the framework of projects funded by the European Commission as part of framework programmes for research and innovation, such as Horizon 2020 – for which 33 projects were still active at the Institute in 2021 for the EURATOM component alone – and Horizon Europe, which has just been launched by the OECD/NEA, and at national level by the Agence nationale de la recherche (National research agency).
To define its research policy and orientate its programmes, IRSN can draw on two additional bodies: the research orientation committee, composed of representatives of the Institute’s main stakeholders, and which guarantees the appropriate coverage of the questions and issues, both societal and political, and the scientific council, composed of personalities selected on account of their scientific and technical skills, which advises and supports the Institute in the strategic management of its scientific activities. This council was re-elected in 2021 with 11 members serving a five-year term.