Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Framework programme


Previous programme


Official Journal Reference

L 361 of 1994-12-31

Legislative Reference

94/919/Euratom of 1994-12-15
To reduce the environmental impact of using nuclear energy by means of research into the fuel cycle permitting optimized management of the end of the cycle.


The Fuel Cycle Safety programme is one of three specific programmes to be implemented by the JRC in support of the specific programme on Nuclear Safety and Safeguards under the Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and training for the European Atomic Energy Community (1994 to 1998); the other two concern Reactor Safety, and Safeguards and Fissile Materials Management.

The programme, which continues and builds on the achievements made in the area of fuel cycle safety under the Third Framework Programme, consists of prenormative research in support of nuclear safety.

Research is aimed at improving the understanding of actinides and the plutonium cycle and contributing towards the formulation of improved solutions for the management of radioactive waste, with a view in particular to reducing the volume and radiotoxicity of such waste. In this respect, account is taken of reactor design. Activities are also aimed at supporting the Member States' current strategy of deep burial of radioactive waste and exploring management strategies which would make it possible to reduce the amount of waste produced by future installations. Such research is conducted in close cooperation with the national laboratories.

JRC research activities cover various subject areas, including:

- Studies of the safety of the behaviour of nuclear fuels (UO2) and mixed oxide;
- Study of fundamental and solid-state physico-chemical analyses of actinides;
- Study of nuclear aerosols;
- Minimization of secondary actinides and other radionucleides with long half-lives in the nuclear fuel cycle;
- Plutonium fuel technology;
- Characterization of spent fuel with a view to its elimination;
- Radionucleides for medical applications.

In addition to the institutional research activities covered by this programme, the JRC also contributes to the implementation of the specific programme on Nuclear Safety and Safeguards through institutional scientific and technical support activities. These comprise activities which are necessary for the formulation and implementation of Community policies and the tasks assigned to the Commission under the Treaty which necessitate the neutrality of the JRC.


Four areas:

- Basic actinide research (Institute for Transuranium Elements, Karlsruhe):
To carry out experimental and theoretical studies of the solid-state and physico-chemical properties of actinides and actinide compounds, elucidating their electronic structure and its effect on their behaviour under conditions of technological relevance; to collect and evaluate data on properties and applications of transuranium elements; to study medical applications of alpha-emitting nuclides;

- Safety of nuclear fuels (Institute for Transuranium Elements, Karlsruhe):
To contribute to improvements in nuclear safety by studying in detail phenomena which occur in light-water reactor fuel rods at extended times of operation and which may endanger the integrity of fuel rods, and by improving fuel fabrication technologies from the safety point of view;

- Mitigation of long lived actinides and fission products (Institute for Transuranium Elements, Karlsruhe):
To minimize secondary actinides and other radionuclides with long half-lives in the nuclear fuel cycle;

- Spent fuel characterization in view of long-term storage:
To characterize unprocessed spent fuel with respect to its behaviour under long-term storage conditions and to determine its radiotoxic potential and to investigate leaching of this waste form under various realistic conditions.


The JRC programme on Fuel Cycle Safety is established under the framework of the specific programme of research, technological development and demonstration to be implemented by the JRC for the European Atomic Energy Community (1995-1998).

The Commission, assisted by the Board of Governors of the JRC, is responsible for implementing the direct actions covered by the programme. The activities relating to these actions are performed in the relevant institutes of the JRC.

The programme comprises institutional research activities implemented through shared-cost projects, concerted actions and direct research activities. Provision is made for a number of accompanying measures, including:

- The organization of visits to JRC institutes of grant holders, visiting scientists and seconded experts;
- Organization of the secondment of JRC staff to national laboratories, industrial laboratories and universities;
- Systematic exchange of information, through the organization of scientific seminars, workshops, colloquia, scientific publications, etc.;
- Specialized training with an emphasis on multidisciplinarity;
- The independent scientific and strategic evaluation of the performance of the projects and programmes.

In the implementation of its research activities the JRC is required to participate in, or organize networks of, public and private laboratories in the Member States or European research consortia, whenever this is appropriate or feasible. Particular attention must also be paid to cooperation with industry, especially with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

On the basis of the criterion of mutual benefit, the JRC may, at the request of the Commission, execute projects with legal entities established in third countries provided this is deemed to make an effective contribution to the implementation of JRC activities. Where applicable, cooperation on projects may also take place within the framework of agreements for S&T cooperation between the Community and third countries. Particular attention is paid to cooperation with research laboratories and institutes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and in the independent states of the former Soviet Union.

The total funds estimated as necessary for the execution of the JRC's three Nuclear Safety and Safeguards programmes (Reactor Safety, Fuel Cycle Safety and Safeguards and Fissile Materials Management) amount to ECU 254 million, of which ECU 87 million is estimated as necessary for institutional support activities. This is drawn from the overall operational budget of ECU 300 million allocated to JRC activities under the Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and training for the European Atomic Energy Community (1994 to 1998), of which a sum equivalent to approximately 6% is reserved for exploratory research. The overall operational budget includes the resources necessary for the JRC to participate in shared-cost actions.

Knowledge gained through the implementation of the projects under the programme is to be disseminated by the JRC itself.

The Commission is required to submit an annual report on the implementation of the JRC actions under the specific programme of research, technological development and demonstration to be implemented by the JRC for the European Atomic Energy Community (1995-1998) to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee before 15 April each year. In addition, regular assessments of the activities covered by the specific programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to initial objectives. A report of this final evaluation will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.


Nuclear Fission - Safety
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