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Research on the safety of Light Water Small Modular Reactors


This action should investigate improved safety features of Light Water SMRs and provide a set of fundamental technical specifications, against which compliance of SMRs with Directive 2009/71/Euratom could be tested by safety regulators. The research should also propose the methodology for the performance of these tests, including the experimental validation of essential items of the proposed models of safety demonstration as well as their effects on the SMR licensing process under various typical fields of application. Due account should be taken of safety features for the refuelling and spent fuel management of SMRs in the above safety demonstration as well as to decommissioning. To increase the impact of the action, particular attention should be paid to Light Water SMR concepts deployable in the short-term.

At least 5% of the total action budget must be dedicated to Education and Training activities for PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and trainees supported through the action.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the Euratom Programme of between EUR 1.75 and up to a maximum of EUR 3.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are considered as an interesting option for electricity production, offering a compact size allowing for in-factory assembly and transport on-site and export potential. They are expected to be easier to build and to operate under certain site conditions. The smaller size of the reactor also offers interesting safety features, notably in terms of residual heat removal and size of containment structure. Compliance with the safety objective as established by Article 8a of Directive 2009/71/Euratom may significantly vary depending on the safety options of the proposed design and need to be further investigated. Light Water SMRs are expected to undergo safety demonstrations during next 10 to 15 years in compliance with Article 8a of that Directive.

This action is expected to allow the EU, within the next decade, to establish a baseline for testing of compliance of Light Water SMR concepts with the requirements of Directive 2009/71/Euratom. The methodology developed by this action and the following safety demonstration might also establish a baseline for SMR's licensing process, and thus lead to licensed and operating Light Water SMR demonstrators in the next 10 to 15 years. Moreover, it will pave the way for robust science-based recommendations to decision makers regarding nuclear safety of Light Water SMRs at EU level. In the longer term, it will reinforce the EU’s commercial prospects and competitiveness in this field.