IAEA and GIF Discuss Safety Design Criteria for SFRs


3rd Joint GIF-IAEA Workshop on Safety Design Criteria for Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactors

2013-02-27 | Experts from Member States, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) and the IAEA have met in Vienna this week for the GIF-IAEA Workshop on Safety Design Criteria for Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactors (26-27 February 2013).

“This Workshop represented a fundamental milestone in the close collaboration between GIF and the IAEA in the field of safety of sodium-cooled fast reactors”, said Mr JK Park, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Power. “It is devoted to the safety design criteria for SFR, including safety approach and requirements on general plant design” he added.

The workshop is also timely as the IAEA has started to review the applicability of its Safety Requirements for “Design of nuclear power plants” and for “Safety assessment for facilities and activities” to advanced reactors designs, particularly to innovative SFRs.

This was the third joint GIF-IAEA workshop addressing SFRs issues. The first meeting was held in June 2010 and covered operating experience and safety fundamental of SFR designs, while the second workshop, held in November 2011, focused on lessons learned from the Fukushima-Daiichi accident and safety implications on the design of innovative SFRs. It also discussed how to harmonize safety approaches and goals for the next generation SFRs and contributed to the harmonization of the safety criteria for GEN-IV SFRs.

“A GIF Task Force has been formulating Safety Design Criteria for SFR over the past two years”, explained Mr Y. Sagayama, Vice-Chair of GIF. “This workshop has provided a valuable opportunity to present and review them”, he said.

“We were able to report on two years of work on the Safety Design Criteria. I think it clarified for many of us that the Criteria that have been developed are for designers as well as for regulators”, stated Mr Harold McFarlane, Technical Director of GIF, who chaired the workshop. “We were also able to hear about the Standard being developed by the American Nuclear Society, which is more intended to assist the regulator in terms of eventually licencing one of these sodium fast reactors. I think we are starting to see convergence on the safety expectations for a fourth generation sodium fast reactor”, Mr McFarlane added.

Safety design concepts of SFRs which are being developed in Member States were also presented and discussed, with an emphasis on design measures against Design Basis Accidents (DBA) and Design Extended Conditions (DEC), as well as associated safety evaluations and supporting R&D.

The meeting confirmed the need to develop safety design criteria for innovative GEN-IV SFRs which should be harmonized, to the maximum extent, at the international level and become part of IAEA recommendations within the set of Safety Requirements for innovative SFRs.

The participants also prepared jointly a document which will serve as a basis for discussion at the Panel on Safety Design Criteria at the forthcoming International Conference on Fast Reactors and Related Fuel Cycles: Safe Technologies and Sustainable Scenarios (FR13) which will be convened in Paris, France, from 4-7 March 2013.

“The participants agreed to have the 4th GIF-IAEA Workshop on Safety of SFR in 2014”, said Stefano Monti, Scientific Secretary of the Workshop and Team Leader for Fast Reactor Technology Development in the IAEA Nuclear Power Technology Development Section. “The aim of the next workshop will be to discuss the safety guides to be elaborated after consolidating the safety design criteria discussed today, and to involve the designers of innovative SFRs under development worldwide”, Mr Monti concluded.

Background

Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors (SFRs) have reached a high level of maturity in the past decades through design, construction and operation of experimental and prototype reactors, such as such as the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) in USA, the small size Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) in the United Kingdom, the prototype PHÉNIX in France, the BN-350 in Kazakhstan, the demonstration plant BN-600 in Russia, JOYO and MONJU in Japan, and the commercial size SUPERPHÉNIX in France. Several countries are currently engaged in SFR design studies, such as Japan and the Republic of Korea, and in design and construction projects, including China, France, India, and the Russian Federation.

GIF and the IAEA have been collaborating and sharing information in selected areas of mutual interest, including the safety of SFRs and in particular the harmonization of safety approach, safety requirements and safety design criteria for the GEN-IV SFRs under development worldwide.

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