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IAEA and GIF Expand Collaboration on Innovative Reactors

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Construction of the High Temperature Reactor – Pebble-Bed Module (HTR–PM) at Shidaowan in China's Shandong province is complete. The 200 MW(e) industrial demonstration power plant, with two 250 MW(th) reactors, is expected to be in operation in 2018. (Photo: INET, Tsinghua University)

Boosting their long-standing cooperation on innovative reactors which started in 2003, experts from the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) and the IAEA recently met to pave the way for a renewed framework and to identify additional areas collaboration, such as in safety, technology development, economics and proliferation resistance of next generation nuclear systems, as well as non-electric applications, education and training, and research and development infrastructure.

The 12th GIF-IAEA interface meeting, a mechanism to decide on key areas of collaboration between the two organizations, held on 26 and 27 March in Vienna, was immediately followed by the 7th IAEA-GIF workshop, which zoomed in on the safety of liquid metal cooled fast reactors, primarily on developing safety design criteria and safety design guidelines for these technologies.

“The GIF-IAEA interface meeting is an excellent opportunity to exchange information on next generation reactor development activities and to review the status of cooperation between the GIF and the IAEA,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “It enables discussion and possible cooperation in several cross-cutting areas, such as the future energy market.”  

He added that this dialogue creates an important link between the IAEA’s diverse efforts to support Member States and an important international research and development (R&D) collaboration among several leading nuclear technology nations.

Past interface meetings had focused on the synergies between IAEA’s International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO) and GIF. However, as more collaboration options have been identified, this series of meetings now encompasses activities from other IAEA programmes and projects as well.

“We need institutional innovations worldwide so as to share international safety standards with the objective to have a stable, unified licensing process,” said François Storrer, GIF’s Policy Director. “The work of a dedicated GIF Task Force to define safety design criteria and guidelines for the design of next generation sodium cooled fast reactors (SFRs) represents an important first step towards helping regulators become familiar with the technical characteristics of Gen-IV systems and the associated safety research.”

We need institutional innovations worldwide so as to share international safety standards with the objective to have a stable, unified licensing process.
François Storrer, GIF’s Policy Director

The 7th IAEA-GIF workshop zoomed in on the safety of liquid metal cooled fast reactors, 27 March 2018. (Photo: IAEA)

The IAEA reviewed the GIF’s report on safety design guidelines for SFRs and provided comments, which will be considered by GIF in the report update. GIF is now preparing safety design guidelines for structures, systems and components (SSC) of SFRs. A draft report will then be submitted to IAEA for review by the end of this year.

“The sessions on safety, economics, small and medium sized or modular reactors (SMRs), R&D, infrastructure, and education and training in both meetings clearly indicated an increased interest in further cooperation between the IAEA and GIF,” said Dohee Hahn, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Power.

“The R&D efforts moving forward under Generation IV continue to push the forefront of reactor technology,” he added. “They are an example of an effective cooperation and this continuing interface helps the IAEA in its mission to communicate progress and promote further international cooperation on innovations for peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

Next generation reactors

The IAEA supports Member States in the development of innovative nuclear energy systems across the whole spectrum of technical areas. It fosters international cooperation on global nuclear energy sustainability and innovations, supports countries in their strategic long-range nuclear energy planning, and provides collaborative frameworks for technology development in advanced reactors and the safe use of nuclear power for non-electric applications.

GIF is an international cooperative endeavour which was set up to carry out the R&D needed to establish the feasibility and performance capabilities of the next generation nuclear energy systems. GIF selected six reactor technologies for further research and development, including gas cooled fast reactor (GFR), lead cooled fast reactor (LFR), molten salt reactor (MSR), supercritical water cooled reactor (SCWR), sodium cooled fast reactor (SFR) and very high temperature reactor (VHTR).

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