The CABRI research reactor in Cadarache, southern France, has carried out the first test simulating an accident situation in a pressurised water reactor (PWR) as part of an international research programme aimed at improving knowledge of nuclear fuel behaviour during an accident involving a sudden increase of power.
The CABRI reactor is operated by France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission for the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). It is a pool-type research reactor built in 1962 which was subsequently adapted to carry out safety studies on French nuclear facilities, from fast neutron reactors to PWRs. It underwent a major upgrade to comply with current safety standards and to install an experimental sodium loop with a pressurised water loop.
The CABRI International Programme (CIP), launched in 2000, aims to study the behaviour of nuclear fuel rods and their cladding during accident conditions in PWRs. The programme is led by IRSN and sponsored by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency with partners from the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the USA.
According to IRSN Director General Jean-Christophe Niel, "The next step in the programme hinges on testing the irradiated fuel rods in an environment as close as possible to that of a pressurised water reactor core."