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Harnessing innovation in nuclear science, technology and radiation protection


This action aims to bring innovation, including via cross-fertilisation with other scientific and technical sectors, to radiation protection. This complements the PIANOFORTE European partnership in medical applications and emergency preparedness, alternative applications of nuclear energy, and risk communication with civil society and decision-makers.

In terms of radiation protection and emergency preparedness, the PIANOFORTE partnership will be the main driving force for research for the coming 5 years, consolidating an EU-wide research and innovation community. The purpose of this action is to complement the PIANOFORTE partnership by fostering frontier research and testing novel ideas that can bring about a breakthrough innovation in the field. The proposals should complement, without duplicating, the research challenges addressed in the PIANOFORTE research roadmap.

In the context of the energy transition and complementing Horizon Europe’s objectives, nuclear energy and innovative nuclear technology applications can provide some Member States with solutions to support climate change mitigation. Nuclear technologies could provide solutions that enable energy-intensive industries to develop and reduce their environmental footprint while remaining competitive. Nuclear has the potential to supply heat to homes, businesses and industrial processes, and produce hydrogen and synthetic fuels or non-electric commodities such as purified water or fertilisers. Some non-electric applications for nuclear energy have been demonstrated and implemented by industry, but their full potential still needs to be demonstrated. The Euratom-funded action should address the safety challenges related to developing and implementing non-electric applications for nuclear energy.

Concerning human health, there are many technologies in various fields of medical applications of ionising radiation. These include targeted radionuclide therapy, targeted therapies based on ion or proton therapy, new technologies for interventional imaging procedures and molecular imaging approaches, and the development of vaccines using irradiation techniques. The rapidly developing medical radiation technologies are becoming more complex and increasingly rely on automation, computerised decision support and AI-based systems. The Euratom-funded action should address the development of new quality assured nuclear techniques or optimisation of existing ones in the medical field. This includes data processing methodologies using artificial intelligence, optimisation of the medical use of ionising radiation and corresponding optimisation of radiation protection.

Each year, patients in Europe benefit from nuclear medicine in diagnosing and treating illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular or neurological disorders. The EU supply of novel radiopharmaceuticals for cancer therapy is at risk due to the growing uncertainties over imports of enriched stable isotopes from Russia. Ensuring European know-how and the EU’s strategic capabilities in this field is essential for the decades to come.

When communicating about nuclear applications and their risks, proposals are expected to bring about and test novel ideas for risk communication to ensure informed decisions by stakeholders, civil society and decision-makers.