Nuclear energy -- Vocabulary

This document contains the terms, definitions, notes to entry and examples corresponding to the basic concepts of the nuclear energy, nuclear technologies, and radiological protection subject fields. It provides the minimum essential information for each cross-cutting concept represented by a single term. NOTE A full understanding of concepts goes with a background knowledge of nuclear energy, nuclear technologies, and radiological protection. It is intended to facilitate communication and promote common understanding.

Énergie nucléaire -- Vocabulaire

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Publication Date
04-May-2020
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6060 - International Standard published
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05-May-2020
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INTERNATIONAL ISO
STANDARD 12749-1
First edition
2020-05
Nuclear energy — Vocabulary —
Part 1:
General terminology
Énergie nucléaire — Vocabulaire —
Partie 1: Terminologie générale
Reference number
ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
ISO 2020
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
COPYRIGHT PROTECTED DOCUMENT
© ISO 2020

All rights reserved. Unless otherwise specified, or required in the context of its implementation, no part of this publication may

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Published in Switzerland
ii © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
Contents Page

Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................iv

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................v

1 Scope ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 1

2 Normative references ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3 Terms and definitions ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 1

3.1 Basic terms related to nuclear energy, nuclear technologies, and radiological protection .. 1

3.2 Terms related to nuclear energy .............................................................................................................................................. 3

3.3 Terms related to safety ..................................................................................................................................................................... 4

3.4 Terms related to measurement ................................................................................................................................................. 6

3.5 Terms related to radioactive waste management and decommissioning ............................................ 9

Annex A (informative) Methodology used in the development of the vocabulary .............................................11

Bibliography .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................17

Alphabetical index .............................................................................................................................................................................................................18

© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved iii
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
Foreword

ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) is a worldwide federation of national standards

bodies (ISO member bodies). The work of preparing International Standards is normally carried out

through ISO technical committees. Each member body interested in a subject for which a technical

committee has been established has the right to be represented on that committee. International

organizations, governmental and non-governmental, in liaison with ISO, also take part in the work.

ISO collaborates closely with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on all matters of

electrotechnical standardization.

The procedures used to develop this document and those intended for its further maintenance are

described in the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1. In particular, the different approval criteria needed for the

different types of ISO documents should be noted. This document was drafted in accordance with the

editorial rules of the ISO/IEC Directives, Part 2 (see www .iso .org/ directives).

Attention is drawn to the possibility that some of the elements of this document may be the subject of

patent rights. ISO shall not be held responsible for identifying any or all such patent rights. Details of

any patent rights identified during the development of the document will be in the Introduction and/or

on the ISO list of patent declarations received (see www .iso .org/ patents).

Any trade name used in this document is information given for the convenience of users and does not

constitute an endorsement.

For an explanation of the voluntary nature of standards, the meaning of ISO specific terms and

expressions related to conformity assessment, as well as information about ISO's adherence to the

World Trade Organization (WTO) principles in the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) see www .iso .org/

iso/ foreword .html.

This document was prepared by Technical Committee ISO/TC 85, Nuclear energy, nuclear technologies,

and radiological protection.
A list of all parts in the ISO 12749 series can be found on the ISO website.

Any feedback or questions on this document should be directed to the user’s national standards body. A

complete listing of these bodies can be found at www .iso .org/ members .html.
iv © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
Introduction

This document provides terms and definitions for basic concepts of nuclear energy, nuclear technologies,

and radiological protection. Terminological data are taken from ISO standards developed by ISO/TC 85

and other technically validated documents, including the IAEA Glossary and vocabularies issued by

different organizations Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Nuclear Energy

Agency, Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology.

Unambiguous communication of nuclear energy and radiological concepts is crucial taking into account

the relevant implications that may arise from misunderstandings with regard to equipment and

materials involved in the standards dealing with these activities. In line with the international demand

for harmonization of terminology regarding nuclear and radiological activities, this standard will

contribute to provide general, cross-cutting terms and definitions to meet users´ requirements. It will

also improve promotion, knowledge and use of international standards dealing with nuclear energy,

nuclear technologies and radiological protection and will help experts developing technical standards

to avoid overlapping and contradiction.

Arrangement of terms and definitions is based on concepts systems that show corresponding

relationships among nuclear and radiological concepts. Such arrangement provides users with a

structured view of the nuclear energy, nuclear technologies, and radiological protection sectors and will

facilitate common understanding of all related concepts, see also Annex A. Besides, concepts systems

and conceptual arrangement of terminological data will be helpful to any kind of user because it will

promote clear, accurate and useful communication in fields like basic and applied sciences, technology,

industry, health, safety, security and human resources training.
© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved v
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INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
Nuclear energy — Vocabulary —
Part 1:
General terminology
1 Scope

This document contains the terms, definitions, notes to entry and examples corresponding to the basic

concepts of the nuclear energy, nuclear technologies, and radiological protection subject fields.

It provides the minimum essential information for each cross-cutting concept represented by a

single term.

NOTE A full understanding of concepts goes with a background knowledge of nuclear energy, nuclear

technologies, and radiological protection. It is intended to facilitate communication and promote common

understanding.
2 Normative references
There are no normative references in this document.
3 Terms and definitions
For the purposes of this document, the following terms and definitions apply.

ISO and IEC maintain terminological databases for use in standardization at the following addresses:

— ISO Online browsing platform: available at http:// www .iso .org/ obp
— IEC Electropedia: available at http:// www .electropedia .org/

3.1 Basic terms related to nuclear energy, nuclear technologies, and radiological

protection
3.1.1
radioactivity

stochastic process whereby nuclei undergo spontaneous disintegration, usually accompanied by the

emission of subatomic particles, or photons

[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019, modified by adding “stochastic natural” at

the beginning of the sentence, by replacing “atoms” with “nuclei”, by deleting “usually” and by replacing

“radiation” with “subatomic particles, and/or photons”.]
3.1.2
activity

quotient of −dN by dt, where dN is the change in the number of radioactive nuclei, at a particular energy

state and at a given time, due to spontaneous nuclear transformations in the time interval dt

[SOURCE: ICRU 85, 6.2, October 2011, modified by changing the order of the phrases, by deleting the

word “mean”, by adding the word “radioactive”.]

Note 1 to entry: It is expressed as AN=−dd/ t . Activity can be calculated as AN=λ , where λ is the decay constant

(3.1.11) and N is the number of present radioactive nuclei.
© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved 1
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)

Note 2 to entry: The special name for the unit of activity in the International System of Units is Becquerel (Bq),

−1 10

where 1 Bq = 1 s . The use of the former unit Curie (1 Ci = 3,7 × 10 Bq), is also accepted in many countries and

in BIPM.
3.1.3
radiation

emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a

material medium

Note 1 to entry: The term also applies to the radiated energy itself. Radiation includes electromagnetic, acoustic

and particle radiation, as well as all forms of ionizing radiation.
[SOURCE: science.wolfram.com retrieved 5 December 2017, modified.]
3.1.4
ionizing radiation

radiation (3.1.3) capable of displacing electrons from atoms or molecules, thereby producing ions

Note 1 to entry: Ionizing radiation includes alpha radiation, beta radiation, neutron radiation, gamma or x rays,

and cosmic rays.
[SOURCE: NCRP Composite Glossary

https:// ncrponline .org/ wp -content/ themes/ ncrp/ PDFs/ NCRP -Composite -Glossary .pdf]

3.1.5
radiation source

apparatus, substance or installation, that may cause radiation exposure, by emitting ionizing radiation

(3.1.4) or releasing radioactive substances or materials

[SOURCE: ISO 12749-2:2013, 1.1.1 modified — by deleting the word “anything” and parenthesis to fulfil

terminological requirement with regard to drafting of definitions.]
3.1.6
radiation processing

intentional irradiation of products or materials to preserve, modify or improve their characteristics

[SOURCE: ISO/ASTM 52628:2013, 3.1.12]
3.1.7
radiation shield
shielding

material interposed between a source of radiation (3.1.3) and persons, equipment or other objects, in

order to attenuate the radiation

[SOURCE: ISO 12749-5:2018, 3.1.20, modified — by changing the verb “attenuate” by “reduce”.]

3.1.8
radionuclide

nuclide which is in an unstable state due to excess of internal energy and which will attain a stable state

by emitting radiation (3.1.3)
40 235 238 232

Note 1 to entry: Radionuclides are either naturally occurring, such as K, U, U, Th and their radioactive

decay (3.1.10) products, or produced by activation or other artificial means.
3.1.9
half-life
1/2

mean time taken for the activity of an amount of radionuclide (3.1.8) to become half its initial value

Note 1 to entry: T ln2/λ, where λ is the decay constant (3.1.11).
1/2 =
2 © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
3.1.10
decay

spontaneous nuclear transformation of one nuclide into a different nuclide or into a

different energy state of the same nuclide
[SOURCE: NCRP Composite Glossary

https:// ncrponline .org/ wp -content/ themes/ ncrp/ PDFs/ NCRP -Composite -Glossary .pdf]

3.1.11
decay constant

quotient of dP by dt, for a radionuclide in a particular energy state, where dP is the likelihood of a single

nucleus undergoing a spontaneous nuclear transition from that energy state in the time interval dt

dP 1 dN
λ = =-
dt N dt

where N is the number of nuclei of concern existing at time t and A is the activity (3.1.2)

Note 1 to entry: The decay constant is related to the radioactive half-life (3.1.9), T , of the radionuclide by the

1/2
ln2
expression: λ =
12/

[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019, modified — by changing the position of the

phrase between commas to fulfil terminological requirement with regard to drafting of definitions.]

3.2 Terms related to nuclear energy
3.2.1
nuclear energy
energy released by nuclear fission (3.2.2) or fusion
3.2.2
nuclear fission

splitting of a nucleus into fission fragments, either spontaneously or as a result of the impact of a

particle, usually with an associated release of energy

Note 1 to entry: The nucleus usually has a high mass number, together with an intermediate or low average-

binding-energy-per-nucleon; hence, an inherent instability exists, and the fission fragments are usually highly

unstable.
[SOURCE: ISO 12749-5:2018, 3.1.1]
3.2.3
nuclear fusion

reaction in which two atomic nuclei combine to form a heavier atomic nucleus with the release of energy

[SOURCE: “Collins Dictionary”. 2019 (Retrieved: November 06, 2019)]
2 3

Note 1 to entry: Nuclear fusion occurs with very light element nuclei, like H, He, etc.

3.2.4
chain reaction

self-sustaining reaction in which the fission of nuclei of one generation of nuclei produces particles that

cause the fission of at least an equal number of nuclei of the succeeding generation

© ISO 2020 – All rights reserved 3
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
3.2.5
nuclear fuel

fissionable nuclear material in the form of fabricated elements for loading into the reactor core of a civil

nuclear power plant or research reactor
[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019]
3.2.6
nuclear fuel cycle
operations associated with the production of nuclear energy (3.2.1)
Note 1 to entry: The nuclear fuel cycle includes the following stages:
a) mining and processing of uranium or thorium ores;
b) conversion;
c) enrichment of uranium;
d) manufacture of nuclear fuel (3.2.5);
e) uses of the nuclear fuel;
f) reprocessing and recycling of spent fuel;

g) temporary radioactive material storage of spent fuel and radioactive waste (3.5.2) from fuel fabrication (and

reprocessing and disposal of spent nuclear fuel [open fuel cycle] or high-level waste (closed fuel cycle);

h) any related research and development activities;
i) transport of radioactive material;

j) all waste management activities [including decommissioning (3.5.8) relating to operations associated with

the production of nuclear energy].
[SOURCE: ISO 12749-3, 3.1.1.1]

Note 2 to entry: Reactor operation and other activities at a reactor site are not addressed in this part of ISO 12749,

but are addressed in ISO 12749-5.
3.2.7
nuclear reactor

special device having an inventory of nuclear fuel (3.2.5) material containing fissionable nuclides and

often neutron moderating, neutron absorbing and cooling materials, all of them geometrically arranged

in a particular neutron multiplicative configuration designed and built for having the capability of

initiating, maintaining and extinguishing a controlled, self-sustaining nuclear fission (3.2.2) chain

reaction (3.2.4), under adequate safety conditions
3.3 Terms related to safety
3.3.1
radiation safety
recognition, evaluation and control of risks due to radiation exposure

Note 1 to entry: Control of the sources of radiation (3.1.3) and the exposure to radiation to protect people and the

environment from unnecessary exposure and the deleterious effects of exposure to radiation.

[SOURCE: NCRP Composite Glossary, modified — by deleting “concerned with”.]
4 © ISO 2020 – All rights reserved
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
3.3.2
nuclear safety

achievement of proper operating conditions, prevention of accidents and mitigation of accident

consequences, resulting in protection of workers, the public and the environment from undue radiation

risks (3.3.7)
[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019]
3.3.3
radiological protection
radiation protection

protection of people and the environment from harmful effects of exposure to ionizing radiation (3.1.4)

and the means for achieving such protection

[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019 modified — by adding “and the environment”

and changing the demonstrative pronoun “that” with “such protection”.]
3.3.4
radioactive contamination

radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids, or gases (including the human body), where

their presence is unintended or undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places

[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2016 Revision, June 2016]
3.3.5
radiological monitoring
radiation monitoring

measurement (3.4.1) of dose (3.3.6), dose rate or activity (3.1.2) for reasons relating to the assessment or

control of exposure to radiation (3.1.3) or exposure due to radioactive substances, and the interpretation

of the results
[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019]
3.3.6
dose
measure of the energy deposited by radiation (3.1.3) in a target
[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2016 Revision, June 2016]

Note 1 to entry: When unspecified, dose refers to quantity of absorbed dose, measured in gray (1 Gy = 1 J·kg ).

Note 2 to entry: Depending upon the context in which it is used, the generic term dose may also refer to equivalent

dose, effective dose or other dose-related quantities.
3.3.7
radiation risk

detrimental health effect of exposure to radiation (3.1.3) and any other safety related risk

Note 1 to entry: Radiation risks might arise as a direct consequence of:
— exposure to radiation;

— the presence of radioactive material, including radioactive waste, or its release to the environment;

— a loss of control over a nuclear reactor (3.2.6) core, nuclear chain reaction (3.2.4), radioactive source or any

other source of radiation.

[SOURCE: IAEA Safety Glossary, 2018 Revision, June 2019, modified — by splitting the text into a

definition and a note to entry.]
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ISO 12749-1:2020(E)
3.4 Terms related to measurement
3.4.1
measurement

process of experimentally obtaining one or more quantity values that can reasonably be attributed to a

quantity
[SOURCE: JCGM 200:2012]
3.4.2
measurand
quantity intended to be measured
[SOURCE: JCGM 200:2012]
3.4.3
measurement uncertainty
non-negative parameter characterizing
...

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