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Investigating the safety of closed nuclear fuel cycle options and fuel developments


This action will address research and innovation in fuel cycle chemistry and physics for the optimisation of fuel design in line with the strategic research and innovation agenda and deployment strategy of SNETP, notably of its ESNII component. The focus shall be on reprocessing and fuel manufacture, including MOX, with the objective of increasing the safety of installations for interim storage during normal operation and hypothetical accident scenarios. As such, it should include research and innovation for developing compatible techniques for dissolution, reprocessing and manufacturing of innovative new nuclear fuels, including oxides potentially containing minor actinides. Moreover, this action should aim at further integrating EU activities on partitioning and fuel fabrication and foster the participation of the chemical separation community from European research institutions and educational establishments.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from Euratom of between EUR 2 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Proposals for topics NFRP 1 to 5 will be ranked in a single ranking list.

The open fuel cycle uses only a few percent of the energy contained in uranium. This efficiency can be greatly improved through the recycling of spent fuel, including, in the longer term, multi-recycling strategies. Furthermore, such closed fuel cycles could facilitate the management of ultimate radioactive waste by reducing its volume and radiotoxicity. The EU benefits from extensive operational experience in this domain, which is unique in the world. This experience should be exploited and extended to further improve nuclear safety, radiation protection and environmental protection aspects of fuel reprocessing options. This challenge is also to be seen in relation to partitioning and transmutation processes for suitable recycling strategies, development and qualification, and safety assessment of innovative fuels and claddings for advanced Generation-IV systems.

This action will lead to the provision of more science-based strategies for nuclear fuel management in the EU. It will reinforce the EU leadership in this domain and open up new avenues towards the EU energy security of supply and increased competitiveness. It will allow nuclear energy to contribute significantly to EU energy independence. In the longer term, it will facilitate the management of ultimate radioactive waste by reducing its volume and radio-toxicity.