IAEA Technical Working Group on Fast Reactors Charts Way Forward

TWG-FR Participants at the Plaza of the Vienna International Centre. (Photo: IAEA)

Interest in IAEA Member States in fast reactor technology is increasing. This year, 18 Member States and three international organizations were represented at the 47th annual meeting of the IAEA Technical Working Group on Fast Reactors (TWG-FR), held in Vienna last week.

The participating experts, representing a global network of excellence and expertise, exchanged information on, and reviewed the current status of national, international and IAEA activities on fast reactor and accelerator driven systems (ADS) technology and discussed the IAEA’s programme in this area for the next two years.

“We believe that fast reactors have a key role to play for continued progress in nuclear energy,” said Alexander Bychkov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “The IAEA remains to be the main international cooperation framework in this field. The fundamental support from the TWG-FR is crucial.”

He also welcomed Mexico, Romania, Slovakia and the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) as new participants in the TWG-FR.

“I also thank the TWG-FR for the valuable contributions to recent IAEA publications,” said Mr Bychkov. This includes the final reports of a number of coordinated research projects, the IAEA publications on Design Features and Operating Experience of Experimental Fast Reactors, on the Status of Fast Reactor Research and Development, and the booklet on Status of Innovative Fast Reactor Design and Concepts.

The TWG-FR meeting included the following outcomes:

An initiative on developing a PC-based simulator of a typical innovative sodium-cooled fast reactor will be launched. Given the IAEA’s significant experience on PC-based simulators of water-cooled reactors, the simulator will be a useful tool to educate and train students and young nuclear engineers.

Fast reactor safety is given high importance in IAEA activities. In addition to the joint initiative by the IAEA and GIF on safety of sodium-cooled fast reactors, which emphasizes safety design criteria, two new studies will be conducted within the TWG-FR, on lessons learned from unusual and accidental situation in fast reactors operation, and passive shutdown safety systems.

Also, a new coordinated research project on the analysis of a turbine trip test conducted in the Japanese prototype reactor Monju will contribute to improving the knowledge on sodium fast reactors operation and the related analytical capabilities.

In addition, the IAEA has launched a new activity to prepare a Catalogue on Experimental Facilities for Development and Deployment of Liquid Metal Cooled Fast Neutron System. “It will identify experimental facilities for fast neutron systems currently operated, developed or planned by national and international programmes, and it will be regularly updated”, said Stefano Monti, IAEA Scientific Secretary of the TWG-FR. All IAEA Member States with relevant fast neutron system projects are participating in this project.

IAEA Technical Working Groups include groups of international experts who provide advice and support for the implementation of different aspects of the Agency’s programme. The 47th Meeting of the TWG-FR was held at the IAEA on 19–23 May 2014.