Research projects

Research projects

  • Biological methods for precautionary radiation protection against radionuclide contamination (BioVeStRa)
    The root system of plants are continuously absorbing radionuclides from radioactively contaminated soils. This causes the risk of an incorporation of radioactive substances via the human food chain (ingestion pathway).Therefore, the mechanism of radionuclide transfer from soil to plants are of great interest for radioecology. The BioVeStRa project investigates the influence of the targeted use of saprophytic, soil-living fungal cultures on the transport of radionuclides into plants. While the potential of fungi for the accumulation and fixation of cesium is already comparatively well investigated, many questions regarding other dose-relevant nuclides are still unknown. In particular, strontium-90 should be mentioned, which is highly relevant for radiation protection due to its physical and biological properties. Therefore, it plays an important role in the investigations of the project.
    Team: Prof. Dr. Clemens Walther, Prof. Dr. Georg Steinhauser, Dr. Dharmendra Gupta, Wolfgang Schulz
    Year: 2016
    Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung - Förderkennzeichen: 02S9276D
    Duration: 01.05.2016 - 30.04.2019
  • Biologische Verfahren zur Strahlenschutzvorsorge bei Radionuklidbelastungen (BioVeStRa)
    Pflanzen, die auf radioaktiv belasteten Böden wachsen, nehmen über ihr Wurzelwerk kontinuierlich Radionuklide aus dem Boden auf. Hierdurch entsteht das Risiko des Eintrags radioaktiver Stoffe in die Nahrungskette des Menschen (Ingestionspfad). Mechanismus und Ausmaß des Radionuklidtransfers vom Boden in die Pflanzen sind daher von großem Interesse in der Radioökologie. Im Rahmen des BioVeStRa-Projektes wird untersucht, welchen Einfluss der gezielte Einsatz von saprophytischen, bodenlebenden Pilzkulturen auf den Transport von Radionukliden in die Pflanzen hat.
    Team: Prof. Dr. Clemens Walther, Prof. Dr. Georg Steinhauser, Dr. Dharmendra Gupta, Wolfgang Schulz
    Year: 2016
    Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung - Förderkennzeichen: 02S9276D
    Duration: 01.05.2016 - 30.04.2019
  • Transport and Transfer Behavior of Long-lived Radionuclides along the Pathway Groundwater - Soil - Surface - Plant in Consideration of Long-term Climatic Changes (TRANS-LARA)
    In view of the long-term safety of a final repository for nuclear waste, potential release, migration to the far-field and accumulation of radionuclides have to be taken into account. This project is expected to contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex mechanisms of radionuclide transport from the groundwater and the vadose zone to agricultural crops, and thus to an improved risk assessment regarding long-term exposure of the general public. Elucidating uptake mechanisms of radionuclides into crop plants on a molecular level represents substantial progress, leading to a concept, which exceeds the significance of transfer factors. Different fractions of chemically well-defined Iodine, technetium, plutonium, and americium tracers are analyzed in column and extraction experiments with regard to changes in concentration and speciation. In pot experiments transfer factors for radionuclide uptake by roots will be determined for four agricultural crops and four reference soils. Additionally, impact of chemical form and oxidation state of the concerning radionuclides on plant uptake will be investigated.
    Led by: Dr. Beate Riebe
    Team: Annika Gust, Simon Pottgießer, Marcus Mandel
    Year: 2017
    Funding: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung - Förderkennzeichen: 02 NUK 051A
    Duration: 01.09.2017 - 28.02.2021
  • Augmented Concepts In Nuclear and Radio Chemistry (A-CINCH)
    Augmented CINCH (A-CINCH) is already the fourth project in the series of CINCH (Coorperation In Nuclear and radio CHemistry) projects funded by the EU under Euratom FP7 and H2020. During the projects, many modern and digital methods and tools have been developed to promote radiochemistry education and to attract new talents, this includes a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), remote controlled experiments (RoboLabs) and interactive screen experiments (IBE).
    Led by: Vivien Pottgießer
    Team: Prof. Clemens Walther; Dr. Jan-Willem Vahlbruch; Paul Hanemann, Anna Kogiomtzidis, Tobias Weissenborn
    Year: 2017
    Funding: Europäische Union – H2020 Förderkennzeichen: 945301
    Duration: 10.2020 - 30.09.2023
  • Investigation of the transfer behavior of americium species in crop plants using radiochemical and mass spectrometric methods
    Americium-241 with its half-life of 432.2 a represents an environmentally relevant radionuclide in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Due to being a decay product of Plutonium-241 with a shorter half-life of 14.35 a, Americium-241 represents the dominating alpha emitter in the contaminated areas. Via the contaminated soil, crop plants could take up the radiotoxic nuclide, which is a potential pathway into the human nutrition chain. Therefore, gaining knowledge and insight into the soil-plant transfer processes and its impact factors are highly relevant.
    Team: Dr. Michael Steppert, Julia Stadler
    Year: 2018
    Funding: Siebold-Sasse-Stiftung (
    Duration: 01.03.2018 – 28.02.2021
  • Transdisciplinary research on the disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Germany (TRANSENS)
    TRANSENS ( is a joint project of 13 institutes and departments of German universities and major research institutions, one department of ETH Zurich and two independent research and consulting institutions. Especially a highly controversial project such as the selection of a site with the best possible safety and the realisation of a repository for high-level radioactive waste is likely to provoke social controversy and resistance. Therefore, the clarification and processing of complex and socio-technically challenging questions concerning nuclear waste disposal is indispensable. Research in TRANSENS is interdisciplinary. This means that the interested public and other non-academic actors are systematically involved in research contexts, specifically in transdisciplinary work packages (TAP). The research will be carried out in subject corridors that are central and relevant to the disposal problem and that are located at the interface between scientific-technical research on the one hand and social science and humanities research on the other. The aim is to create a science-based, experimental landscape that will enable scientific conclusions to be drawn about the disposal path to be followed. In this context, the IRS is working on the TAP TRUST (technique, uncertainties, complexity and trust)
    Led by: Prof. Dr. Clemens Walther
    Team: Dr. Cord Drögemüller, Dr. Pius Krütli, Dr. Roman Seidl
    Year: 2019
    Funding: Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Volkswagen Foundation, Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony; Funding number: 02E11849A-J
    Duration: 01.10.2019 - 30.09.2024
  • Nuclear environmental forensics of radiocesium isotopes
    If an environmental sample is contaminated with radioactive material (specifically: radiocesium) from several sources, it is difficult to identify the sources of contamination. Using the characteristic 135Cs/137Cs fingerprint, environmental samples should be assigned to a specific source. 135Cs is one of the "most difficult" radionuclides in nuclear environmental analysis and should now be made analytically "detectable". An example of this are the microspheres released in Fukushima, which represent a microscopic archive of fission products from a specific source. Therefore the isotopic composition of the radiocesium fraction in the microspheres will be analyzed by laser ablation triple quadrupole ICP mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-QQQ-MS).
    Team: Dorian Zok, Prof. Dr. Georg Steinhauser, Felix Stäger
    Year: 2019
    Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Projektnummer 419819104
    Duration: 01.01.2019 – 31.12.2021
  • Speciation of plutonium: Investigations of the formation, stability and radiolysis of colloids of different plutonium isotopes
    The aqueous chemistry of plutonium is very complex as it can be present in several oxidation states at the same time. Therefore it can form many different species, varying in properties like solubility, mobility etc. Colloids are formed from an over-saturated aqueous solution of tetravalent plutonium and play an important role in increased mobility which could lead to a release of plutonium from the final storage of radioactive waste. In previous studies, executed independently of each other, results of colloids of 239Pu and 242Pu particular for structure were contradictory. The main difference between these isotopes is their specific activity, which indicates that varying amounts of alpha radiation could have an influence on the formation and the aging processes of the colloids. However, different isotopes of plutonium were used and the experiments were carried out in various media. This project, funded by the Siebold-Sasse-Foundation, is intended to gain detailed knowledge of the formation mechanism and structures of colloids produced in different media (nitrate, chloride, perchlorate).
    Team: Sandra Reinhard, Clemens Walther
    Year: 2019
    Funding: Siebold-Sasse-Stiftung
    Duration: 01.06.2019 – 31.05.2022
  • Secondary Ionisation of Radioactive Isotopes for Ultra trace analysis with Spatial resolution (SIRIUS)
    The behaviour of plutonium in the environment is of high importance in the field of radioecology. Previous studies show that a sole ultra-trace analysis of plutonium does not give answers to all issues in question. It is due to the complex chemical binding properties, that detailed speciation analysis is inevitable to understand the behaviour in the environment properly.
    Led by: Prof. Dr. Clemens Walther
    Team: Hauke Bosco, Martin Weiß, Manuel Raiwa, Paul Hanemann
    Year: 2019
    Funding: BMBF 2020+ 02NUK044A
    Duration: 01.01.2016 - 31.12.2019