France and Russia on 24 May agreed to strengthen technical and commercial cooperation in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources, including the development of fast neutron reactor systems, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said.
The agreement was signed between Rosatom and France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), which agreed to share general approaches to nuclear power development and its role in achieving UN climate change goals set under the April 2016 Paris Agreement.
"Nuclear power is a high-technology, modern, reliable and economically effective source of energy generation which ensures, along with renewables, solutions for greenhouse release constraints,” Rosatom said. The agreement also provides for scientific exchanges between students at nuclear educational establishments and increased contact between nuclear research centre employees.
In April, CEA also signed a statement of intent to strengthen cooperation on fast neutron sodium-cooled reactors with the US Department of Energy (DOE). CEA and DOE will explore areas of further collaboration on the development of fast neutron sodium-cooled reactors, including modelling, simulation and validation, technology testing, access to supply chains, experimental facilities, and advanced materials.
France is developing the Advanced Sodium Technical Reactor for Industrial Demonstration (Astrid), with a target for use by around 2040. The 600MWe Astrid prototype would operate from about 2025, with a series of 1500MWe units to follow. They would be fuelled by depleted uranium and plutonium in mixed-oxide fuel.
France has operated three fast reactors since the 1960s, including Phenix, which operated from 1973 to 2009. CEA was commissioned by the government to develop two fourth generation fast reactors including Astrid in 2006, and in 2009 Astrid became a high R&D priority because of its potential as an actinide burner.
Photo: The French CEA and Rosatom agree to cooperate on fast reactor development (Credit: CEA)