Europe continues co-operation with GIF

9 February 2016

The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) is expected continue research and development collaboration with the of Generation IV International Forum (GIF) following a recommendation by an EU Council of Ministers working group to extend Euratom's participation in GIF for another 10 years, until 2026.

The final adoption of this decision by the Council of Ministers is expected soon. GIF was created in January 2000 by nine countries and today has 13 members. These include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA, along with the EU (through Euratom).

In 2002, GIF selected six systems from nearly 100 concepts as Generation IV reactor technologies. The six systems are sodium-cooled fast reactors (SFR); gas-cooled fast reactors (GFR); very high temperature reactors with thermal neutron spectrum (VHTR); lead-cooled fast reactors or lead-bismuth eutectic cooled fast reactors (LFR); molten salt reactors (MSR) with fast or thermal neutron spectrum; and supercritical water reactors (SCWR) with fast or thermal neutron spectrum. The GIF Framework Agreement, established in 2005, was extended for another 10 years in February 2015, paving the way for continued collaboration. In June, Russia signed a 10-year extension to its participation in GIF.

European nuclear trade group Foratom noted that European nuclear research consortia are in the process of designing, developing and constructing four demonstration reactors that utilize three of these six technologies. These are the Astrid prototype sodium-cooled fast reactor to be built in France; the Allegro gas-cooled fast reactor to be constructed in either the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovakia; the Alfred lead-cooled fast reactor to be built in Romania; and the Myrrha lead-bismuth cooled accelerator-driven fast neutron multi-purpose research reactor under construction in Belgium. The Allegro and Myrrha projects are on a list of priority investments for the EU under the €315bn ($350bn) investment plan launched last February by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

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