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About Fission

Nuclear fission and radiation protection in FP7

Nuclear fission is the splitting apart of the nucleus of an atom. By carefully controlling this process at an industrial scale, we can harness the large quantities of energy released to generate electricity for the benefit of society as a whole.

In this way, for about two decades, civil nuclear power stations in a number of European countries have been responsible for producing approximately one-third of all the EU's electricity.

Up to now, nuclear fission remains a viable option for those Member States wishing to use this technology in a balanced mix of energy supplies. Research and training activities are of paramount importance in ensuring continued high levels of nuclear safety both now and in the future, maintaining the progress towards implementation of sustainable waste management solutions, and improving efficiency and competitiveness of the sector as a whole. Research in radiation protection constitutes an essential aspect of this policy, ensuring optimal safety of the public and workforce in all medical and industrial applications.

For maximum effectiveness, a concerted approach at the EU level is required with continued co-operation between Member States and significant efforts to maintain infrastructures, competences and know-how. Research must also explore new scientific and technological opportunities and enable Europe to respond in a flexible way to new policy needs arising during the course of the Framework Programme. Euratom FP7 seeks to address all these challenges.

Many of the activities in Euratom FP7 will be a continuation of long-term research supported in previous Community programmes. It will encourage greater cross-fertilisation amongst the various thematic priorities of the programme, with specific mention in the work programme of topics that cut across the various themes. A typical example is research on advanced materials for both waste transmutation technologies and Generation IV reactors, where the challenges and problems are very similar.

In Euratom FP7, the Commission is keen to encourage enhanced international cooperation. This may be facilitated via existing or new bilateral international R&D agreements with third countries, or on an ad hoc basis at the level of project consortia. Third country partners would normally be expected to participate using their own sources of funding.

A sustainable contribution

Nuclear power is the most significant European source of carbon-free base-load electricity and is an important element in combating climate change and minimising Europe's dependence on imported energy sources.

Advances in nuclear technology offer the prospect of significant improvements in efficiency and use of resources, whilst ensuring even higher safety standards with decreased production of waste compared to current designs.

Nuclear safety remains, as always, the top priority. The European Union has an outstanding nuclear safety record, however research must continue in order to maintain this high level of safety and to understand better the risks and hazards associated with the use of radiation in medicine and industry. In all uses of radioactive materials, the overriding principle is to protect citizens and the environment.

The European nuclear sector is characterised by cutting-edge technology and provides highly skilled employment for several hundred thousand people. To ensure our safety both now and in the future requires skilled people and well-equipped nuclear research facilities. The availability of these resources is a crucial prerequisite for maintaining safety no matter what the future holds for the nuclear power sector.

In line with the strategy to establish a true European Research Area in nuclear science and technology, and with the support of the European Commission via the Euratom Framework Programme, three forums have recently been established that bring together leaders from industry, academia and national research and safety organisations to plan and carry out research more strategically. These forums are technology platforms ..

Research activities

Further information on each of these research activities can be found here .

Last updated on: 2013-05-31