The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is in charge of applications-oriented basic research independent of location on nuclear disposal, especially regarding the aspect of safety in the treatment and disposal of radioactive waste. The focus is on the question of safe handling and disposal of radioactive waste. The Economic Affairs Ministry has been funding scientific investigations into this issue for nearly four decades. The results achieved so far show that the final storage of radioactive waste can be safely undertaken in deep geological rock formations.

  • The focus of future research work will be on the following R&D fields:
  • Impact of extended intermediate storage times on waste and containers (R&D field 1)
  • Scientific principles governing the site selection (R&D field 2)
  • Final repository concepts and technology (R&D field 3)
  • Proof of safety (R&D field 4)
  • Knowledge management and social and technical issues (R&D field 5)
  • Monitoring nuclear materials (R&D field 6)

A more detailed description of research and development work on final disposal is to be found in the currently applicable support concept "Schwerpunkte zukünftiger FuE-Arbeiten bei der Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle (2011-2014)" (only in German, PDF: 1 MB). In these research activities the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is supported by agencies under its auspices including the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) and the Projektträger Karlsruhe für Wassertechnologie und Entsorgung (PTKA-WTE) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Important future tasks to be tackled by research include the corroboration of existing findings and knowledge through scientific studies at the specifically designated final disposal site for highly radioactive waste that develops heat in Germany. This includes the development of methods and techniques necessary for specific measures to prepare final storage, and methods and techniques for the planning, construction, operation and closure of a final repository. This research work also continually furthers the state-of-the-art in science and technology.

The research work is making a substantial contribution towards the creation, further development and maintenance of scientific and technological knowledge and skills and to fostering young talent in the field of the disposal of nuclear waste in Germany.

International research and development cooperation on the potential host formations of clay and granite have received increasing attention over the last few years. Thus it was not only possible to lay the foundations for the provisional certificate of safety for Gorleben, but also in particular important findings were obtained in the underground laboratories in granite and clay, which are the key elements of certificates of safety for these formations. Wide-ranging demonstration experiments are taking on increasing importance in this connection. This is the main reason why the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in addition to ANDRA, SKB-AB and Posiva Oy is a founding member of the IGD-TP, a technology platform that has set out to establish deep geological final disposal of highly radioactive waste at least at one site in Europe by 2025. The Implementing Geological Disposal Technology Platform (IGD-TP) has around 70 members at present. Just like the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, all these partners are involved in applications-oriented basic research and its technical implementation in the area of nuclear waste disposal.

The Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Endlagerforschung (DAEF) was founded on 16 January 2013. The aim of this independent working group is to promote research and development in the area of final disposal of radioactive waste with the intention of deepening cooperation between members. The DAEF will be providing the Federal Government expert scientific advice. The founding members of the DAEF are those institutions in Germany that are most involved in final disposal. The Chairman of the DAEF is Prof. Horst Geckeis (KIT), his Deputy Chairman Dr. Jörg Mönig (GRS).