Multi-criteria decision aid for policy formulation in the nuclear field

Multi-criteria decision aid has emerged from the operational research field as the answer to a couple of important questions encountered in complex decision problems. Firstly, as decision aiding tools, such methods do not replace the decision maker with a mathematical model, but support him to construct his solution by describing and evaluating his options. Secondly, instead of using a unique criterion capturing all aspects of the problem, in multi-criteria decision aid one seeks to build multiple criteria, representing several points of view. As such, multi-criteria analysis can be used in a variety of problem context, such as vulnerability analysis, environmental policy, etc.

On-going projects

Vulnerability analysis of safeguarding a geological repository

Multi-criteria analysis is proposed as suitable framework to model the vulnerability of safeguarding a geological repository. Vulnerability analysis originated from the field of natural disasters management, but has since found widespread application in various fields, including security of critical infrastructures. This makes it a promising theoretical paradigm for tackling proliferation resistance issues.

In the framework of the ASTOR task, a joint Support Programme task to the IAEA has the purpose to discuss and develop the safeguards approach for geological repositories, whereby the Finnish design of a geological repository is taken as a reference design.

In a number of publications we have explored the use of vulnerability analysis in developing a safeguards approach for a geological repository, by proposing vulnerability assessment criteria and an aggregation procedure for obtaining global vulnerability scores. Five diversion paths were considered for an open geological repository.

In a next step we propose ways to incorporate uncertainties in the analysis and to derive robust safeguards strategies with regards to the diversion paths considered.

Contact: Turcanu Catrinel

The use of multi-criteria decision-aid for environmental remediation

An internal project started in 2016 looks at the potential of the multi-criteria decision aid framework for the formulation of policy on environmental remediation. Specific features of MCDA that make it particularly suitable for this field are that it aids decision makers and stakeholders describe possible options; it includ stakeholders’ values and preferences; it accepts multiple dimensions (radiological, environmental, social…); it provides a clearer illustration of the different inputs that go into decision-making.

Contact: Turcanu Catrinel


Previous projects

FLINS – Fuzzy logic and intelligent technologies in nuclear science and industry

FLINS, an acronym originally for Fuzzy Logic and Intelligent Technologies in Nuclear Science (1994), has been launched in line with SCK•CEN's objective to offer PhD and post-doc researchers the opportunity to carry out future-oriented research.

The principal missions of FLINS were:

  1. Conduct research on computational intelligence systems for solving intricate problems pertaining to real world complex systems (nuclear safeguards missing information treatments, conflict analysis of experts' judgements for energy policy study, and safety culture analysis under uncertainties are current research topics).
  2. Bridge the gap between machine intelligence and complex systems via joint research with Belgian, European, and international research institutes and universities.
  3. Encoure interdisciplinary research and bring together multi-discipline researchers via the international FLINS conferences on computational intelligence systems.

Fuzzy logic control at the BR1 Reactor

[D. Ruan, Initial experiments on fuzzy control for nuclear reactor operations at the BR1, Nuclear Technology 143 (2), 227-240, 2003]

A self-learning control water-tank demo model

[D. Ruan, Implementation of adaptive fuzzy control for a real time control demo-model, Real-Time Systems 21, 219-239, 2001]

Linguistic assessment approach for nuclear safeguards information

[D. Ruan, J. Liu, R. Carchon, Linguistic assessment approach for managing nuclear safeguards indicator information, Int. J. of Logistics Information Management 16 (6), 401-419, 2003]

Uncertainty analysis via aggregation operators for cost estimation in a lager scale engineering project

[D. Ruan, T. Li, Uncertainty analysis via aggregation operators for cost estimation in a lager scale nuclear project, Int. J. Nuclear Knowledge Management 2 (4), 375-395, 2007]

Fuzzy multi-criteria group decision support in long-term options of Belgian energy policy

[D. Ruan, J. Lu, E. Laes, G. Zhang,, J. Ma, G. Meskens, Multi-criteria group decision support with linguistic variables in long-term scenarios for Belgian energy policy, Journal of Universal Computer Science 16 (1), 103-120, 2010]

Multi-criteria decision aid for the evaluation of agricultural countermeasures after an accidental release of radionuclides to the environment

A PhD by Catrinel Turcanu in collaboration with the Université Libre de Bruxelles explored the application of multi-criteria decision aid methods for optimising food chain countermeasure strategies after a radioactive release to the environment.

The core of the thesis was dedicated to formulating general lines for the development of a multi-criteria decision aid model. This included the definition of potential actions, construction of evaluation criteria and preference modelling and was essentially based on the results of a stakeholders’ process. The work was centred on the management of contaminated milk in order to provide a concrete focus and because of its importance as an ingestion pathway in short-term after an accident.

Among other issues, public acceptance of milk countermeasures as a key evaluation criterion was analysed in detail. A comparison of acceptance based on stochastic dominance was proposed and, based on that, a countermeasures’ acceptance ranking was deduced.

In order to assess “global preferences” taking into account all the evaluation criteria, an ordinal method was chosen. This method allows expressing the relative importance of criteria in a qualitative way instead of using, for instance, numerical weights. Some algorithms that can be used for robustness analysis were also proposed. This type of analysis is an alternative to sensitivity analysis in what concerns data uncertainty and imprecision and seeks to determine how and if a model result or conclusion obtained for a specific instance of a model’s parameters holds over the entire domain of acceptable values for these parameters.

The integrated multi-criteria decision aid approach proposed made use of outranking and interactive methodologies and was implemented and tested through a number of case studies and prototype tools.

Contact: Turcanu Catrinel