A Strategic View on Nuclear Data Needs

Report by the NEA Secretariat

September 1993


At its third meeting in October 1992, the NEA Nuclear Science Committee (NSC) discussed an interim report from a Working Party on scientific data requirements for the 1990s. Discussions covered:

It was agreed to initiate a strategic review of these questions and to produce a synthesis document where the recommendations could be presented to Member countries as a proposal for action.

A small group of NSC members (Annex 1) was formed to draft a first version of such a report. The group met at the end of January 1993 to discuss the layout and content of the document and started to write the different chapters. A draft version of the report was then discussed at a NEA Think Tank meeting (Annex 1) at the end of May 1993, followed by an in-depth discussion at the Nuclear Science Committee meeting in early June 1993. The comments and suggestions from these meetings have been incorporated in the present report.

Executive Summary

This report examines the present and future needs for scientific nuclear data and discusses ways of meeting any such needs.

Different application areas have been covered and well founded requests for scientific data have been expressed both within the "traditional" fission reactor area and new areas, such as radioactive waste transmutation, medicine and fusion. Specific examples of cost savings to be made using improved data, or of potential penalties for current or future applications which may be incurred by relying on inadequate data are given.

The resources of qualified manpower are falling below a minimal level and the situation appears particularly alarming when the age structure of the staff presently working in the field is considered. If the present staff policy is not changed very soon, there is a clear danger that indispensable know-how in nuclear data will be lost.

Support from industrial users is needed, but the ultimate responsibility for financing nuclear data work must, in the long term, rest with governments. Better cooperation between data producers and users should be established.

Data centres play an important role in coordinating national efforts and in helping to avoid unnecessary duplication of work. A minimum of two international data centres is needed.

NEA proposes to undertake the following actions in the nuclear data field:

It should be emphasised that any international cooperative effort undertaken by NEA would never replace national efforts, but would improve productivity from existing and future resources.


1   Introduction 

1.1   Where is nuclear data used?
1.2   How do we obtain basic nuclear data?
1.2.1   Calculations
1.2.2   Experiments
1.3   Accommodating nuclear data to user needs
1.3.1   Evaluations
1.3.3   Quality Assurance
1.4   Distribution of data
1.5   Time needed in updating data libraries

2   Why do we need more nuclear data?
2.1   Reactor power production
2.2   Other applications areas

3   Data needs for specific applications
3.1   Existing fission reactors and their fuel cycles

3.2   Data needs for advanced reactors
3.3   Transmutation and accelerator development
3.4   Medical applications
3.5   Fusion data

4   Resources for satisfying data needs

4.1   Experimental facilities
4.2   Nuclear model calculation and development

5   The Nuclear Data Centres

5.1   Existing data centres
5.2   Coordination between the centres
5.3   Coordination between evaluation projects
5.4   The specificity of NEA

6   Conclusions
6.1   Needs for nuclear data
6.2   Cooperation between users and producers
6.3   Resources
6.4   The network of data centres
6.5   NEA actions

Annex 1Participants in the Different Groups Preparing this Report

Annex 2Some Examples of Data Needs for Fission Reactors and their Fuel Cycles
Annex 3Possible Development of the NEA Data Bank's Role in the Data Centres Network
Annex 4NEA Activity in the Field of Nuclear Data Evaluation
Annex 5Cooperation between Users and Producers of Nuclear Data
Annex 6A Framework for International Collaboration in Nuclear Data Measurements

List of Figures

Figure 1 Schematic flow of scientific nuclear data

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