Frequently Asked Questions about the IAEA Advanced Reactors Information System

1.  What kind of information is included in the Design Descriptions in ARIS?

The information in each Design Description is organized according to IAEA’s outline for Design Descriptions in the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Description of the Nuclear Systems
  3. Description of Safety Concept
  4. Proliferation Resistance
  5. Safety and Security (Physical Protection)
  6. Description of Turbine-Generator System
  7. Electrical and I&C systems
  8. Spent fuel and Waste Management
  9. Plant Layout
  10. Plant Performance
  11. Development of Status of Technologies
  12. Deployment Status and Planned Schedule
  13. References

Most sections are divided further in detailed subsections. Ideally, each Design Organization provides information for all the above mentioned sections. However, it is not obligatory to fill in every section of the Outline, especially for designs which are still under development.

2.  The Design Descriptions for what type of Reactors are included in ARIS?

ARIS includes information provided by the Design Organizations about advanced nuclear plant designs and concepts of all sizes and of all reactor lines. According to the definitions provided by the IAEA (IAEA-TECDOC-936 “Terms for describing new, advanced nuclear power plants”) an advanced design is a design of current interest for which improvement over its predecessors and/or existing designs is expected. Advanced designs consist of evolutionary designs and designs requiring substantial development efforts. ARIS includes both evolutionary designs for near-term deployment, to innovative reactor concepts still under development. TECDOC-936 defines an Eevolutionary design as an advanced design that achieves improvements over existing designs through small to moderate modifications, with a strong emphasis on maintaining design proveness to minimize technological risks. TECDOC-936 defines an innovative design as a design that incorporates radical conceptual changes in design approaches or system configuration in comparison with existing practice and would, therefore, require substantial R&D, feasibility tests and a prototype or demonstration plant to be implemented.

3.  Does ARIS compare different designs? Does ARIS endorse specific designs or makes recommendations to Member States?

ARIS is IAEA's web-accessible database with the purpose of providing Member States with balanced, comprehensive and up-to-date information about advanced reactor designs. Design Descriptions are provided by Design Organizations, and, after being thoroughly reviewed and edited, are included in ARIS in order to provide information about all available nuclear power plant designs and development trends. ARIS is intended to be an unbiased source of information and through ARIS the IAEA does not wish to endorse any design/reactor line/development trend.

4.  How is ARIS different from GRSR (Generic Reactor Safety Review)?

As described above, ARIS is IAEA’s web-accessible database with the purpose of providing Member States with balanced, comprehensive and up-to-date information about advanced reactor designs. The IAEA also provides the Design and Safety Assessment Review Service (DSARS) to assist and advise Member States in achieving and maintaining a high level of safety of nuclear power plants. This service is organized in modules that cover the review of the design at different phases based on the IAEA safety standards. GRSR is one of the modules which is offered for the review of safety cases (completely or partially developed) of new concepts that are not at the licensing stage yet. The review is focused on checking the status of the documentation (completeness and comprehensiveness). For more details on GRSR, please see here.

5.  How does information contained in ARIS support Technology Assessments conducted by Member States?

According to the IAEA's programme, the overall purpose of Technology Assessment is to determine nuclear power plant technology to fulfill energy delivery needs using a systematic process beginning with policy objectives. Technology Assessment assists in refining infrastructure development and develops specific questions to obtain information from technology holders that is required for the assessing process. It may also develop technical requirements for the bid specification and provide the technical core for performing the bid evaluation. In the end of the process, the deliverable is a documented decision-making rationale for the technology choice. The Technology Assessment should contain the structured technical evaluation documenting the policy objectives and requirements and how well they are met.

ARIS, as a database of Design descriptions, supports performing Technology Assessment through being an objective source of technical information about different reactor designs. Technical information in ARIS about nuclear power plant designs and technologies that have been identified to have the potential to meet the key criteria and requirements based on relevant policy goals and objectives is necessary while proceeding with the Technology Assessment.

6.  How does the Booklet "Status of Small and Medium-sized Reactor (SMR) Designs" complement ARIS when the Booklet dedicates only one or two pages for each SMR while the Design Descriptions uploaded in ARIS are lengthy and detailed?

As mentioned in its Foreword, the objective of Booklet on SMR Designs is "to provide Member States with a brief introduction to ARIS by presenting a balanced and objective overview of the status of SMR designs". In fact, many of the brief design descriptions that are found in the Booklet are not based on information derived from Design Descriptions submitted to ARIS. The long-term purpose of the Booklet on SMRs is twofold: it obviously summarizes the overall picture of SMRs of all principle reactor lines and technology proveness as a current reactor development trend while through this effort the IAEA wishes to trigger communication and interaction with SMR Design Organizations that have not submitted design description for the ARIS database yet. In that sense, the Booklet is a supplement to ARIS, however, the information in it could not be used as a substitute to Design Descriptions in ARIS.