France, Japan and the USA to cooperate on fast reactor demos

8 October 2010

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the US Department of Energy (DOE) have signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the development of prototype/demonstration sodium-cooled fast reactors (SFRs).

France plans to build an industrial demo, ASTRID, next to Phenix

The agreement builds on a MOU signed by the three countries in August 2008 to expand collaboration on SFR technology.

Under the new agreement, signed October 2010, the three organizations will cooperate in the following six additional areas.

1. R&D related to the proto/demo SFR development, including safety, system configuration, advanced materials, instrumentation, in-service inspection and repair, under sodium viewing, thermal hydraulics and neutronics. They will also share experience of fast reactor operations at Joyo, Monju, Phenix, Superphenix, EBR-II, and FFTF.

2. Exploration of collaborative component design and fabrication.

3. Shared facilities for component testing, fuel development, and/or safety testing.

4. Proto/demo reactor design studies.

5. Feasibility study on joint fuel fabrication for future proto/demo reactors.

6. Discussion on advanced fast reactor fuel cycle.

The organizations already cooperate within the framework of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), a multilateral collaboration focused on promoting R&D for the development of next generation nuclear energy systems.

Both France and Japan have definitive timetables for deployment of SFRs, while work in the United States is focused on system evaluations, material issues, safety analyses, and implications of SFRs for management of used nuclear fuel.

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