ICN - Pitesti

The Post-Irradiation Examination Laboratory (PIEL):

  • investigates the effect of the irradiation on the nuclear fuel and on the structural materials out of Cernavoda NPP and the TRIGA research reactor of INR Pitesti;
  • manufactures and sells sealed nuclear radiation sources and radioisotopes used in industry, agriculture and medicine;
  • Hot Cells
  • characterizes radioactive waste.

Activities and services

  • Post-irradiation examination of nuclear fuel which was irradiated in energetic nuclear reactors (Cernavoda NPP) in order to monitor its performance and to find the causes of faults, if applicable.
  • Post-irradiation examination of nuclear fuel which was irradiated in the TRIGA reactors (steady state reactor (SSR) and annular core pulsed reactor (ACPR)) of INR Pitesti, both for normal and abnormal (power ramping, power cycling, overloading) running parameters and also for accident conditions (reactivity insertion, loss of coolant accident).
  • Examination of structural materials used for the nuclear reactor.
  • Manufacturing and sale of sealed nuclear radiation sources and radioisotopes used in industry, agriculture and medicine.
  • Monitoring and maintenance of SENTINEL industrial radiography devices used for Se-75, Ir-192, Co-60, and Yb-169 sealed nuclear radiation sources.
  • Characterization of radioactive waste.
Workstation in the hot cells
Leica TELATOM 4 metallographic microscope for radioactive materials

Experimental infrastructure

The facilities of the laboratory are unique on a national scale. They allow the testing, handling and examination of the nuclear fuel and the structural materials used in nuclear power plants. The infrastructure of the laboratory includes:

  • Two alpha-gamma heavy concrete hot cells (transfer cell and examination cell).
  • The transfer cell is equipped with:
    • devices and tools for dissasembling the sample holders and for the recovery of the experimental fuel elements and of the samples of structural materials tested by irradiation in the TRIGA reactor;
    • two TIG welding machines (used for the manufacturing of the sealed nuclear radiation sources and for other applications);
    • device for measuring the gamma activity of the sealed nuclear radiation sources;
    • CNC machining center DYNA DM 1007 used to prepare the radioactive samples for mechanical testing.
    The examination cell is equipped with:
    • periscope having a magnification up to x12;
    • three machines for non-destructive post-irradiation examination: machine for visual inspection by periscope, machine for dimensional measurements and defectoscopy using eddy currents, and machine for gamma spectrometry and tomography;
    • ZETEC MIZ-27 SI equipment for defectoscopy by eddy currents method;
    • FISHERSCOPE equipment for measuring the thickness of the oxide sheath by eddy currents method;
    • installation for sampling and analysis of fission gases.
  • Two alpha-gamma steel hot cells:
    • the metalography cell, having equipments for the metalographic preparation of irradiated samples in order to examine them by optical microscopy and by scanning electron microscopy;
    • the radiochemistry cell, having equipments needed to obtain fission Mo-99 by dissolving the irradiated uranium targets,
      TESCAN MIRA II LMU CS Schottky Field Emission Electron Scanning Microscope
      chemical separation of Mo-99 and purification of the solution.
  • A beta-gamma steel hot cell (the cell of the metalographic microscope).
  • A beta-gamma lead hot cell (the cell for mechanical testing) equipped with an INSTRON 5569 50 kN Tensile Testing machine having a furnace able to reach temperatures up to 1000oC.
  • System for the transport of the spent nuclear fuel using a transport container type B(U).
  • Radiochemistry laboratory equipped with:
    • inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) model ELAN-DRC, with reaction cell, for chemical and isotopic analysis;
    • high resolution gamma spectrometric system with extended range down to 5 KeV;
    • dual alpha spectrometric system type ORTEC 576A;
    • HPLC (high purity liquid chromatography) system;
    • microwave digestor.
    ELAN DRC-e Quadrupole ICP-MS INSTRON 5569 50 kN mechanical testing device for tests on irradiated materials
    TA Instruments Q2000 Detachable cell differential calorimeter
  • Equipments (installed in the hot cells) for manufacturing sealed nuclear radiation sources.
  • Portable gamma spectrometry system used for characterization of radioactive waste.
  • Metalographic microscope LEICA TELATOM 4, shielded, for the analysis of radioactive materials.
  • Scanning electron microscope model TESCAN MIRA II LMU CS with Schottky Field Emission.
  • Differential Scanning Calorimeter) model TA Instruments Q2000 with removable cell, used to determine the hydrogen content in irradiated zirconium alloys (pressure tube, fuel element cladding).

The Post-Irradiation Examination Laboratory is part of the HOTLAB Laboratories network within FP6 of the European Commission.


  • Post-irradiation examination services for spent nuclear fuel, discharged from the reactors of Cernavoda NPP (1 fuel bundle / year, from 2012 to 2015) (contract no. 3515/2012 between INR Pitesti/PIEL and Cernavoda NPP).
  • "Development within INR Pitesti of methods used to test irradiated materials", including the assesment of PIEL capability to examine pressure tube samples (DHC (Delayed Hydride Crack) test and the measurement of hydrogen content using Differential Scanning Calorimetry) (contract no. 3317/2008 between INR Pitesti and COG (Candu Owners Group)).
  • Manufacturing and sale of sealed nuclear radiation sources (Ir-192 and Co-60) for industrial radiography
  • Decomissioning of cobalt therapy installations belonging to the Ministry of Health and replacement of Co-60 sources in installations still functional.
  • Contract for checking, maintenance and service for SENTINEL type industrial gammagraphy installations (contract no. 3509/2012, between INR Pitesti/PIEL and SC KIMET SA Tg. Secuiesc).
  • Characterization of LEU foils to be used for fission Mo-99 production, prior and after the irradiation (contract no. 3512/2012, between INR Pitesti and ANL(USA)).
Contact: : Marin MINCU, e-mail: marin.mincu@nuclear.ro

Last modified: 14-05-2014.


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