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Safety Research and Innovation for Partitioning and/or Transmutation

This action will address back-end fuel cycle research and innovation needs in all technical areas of P&T as identified by the SNETP Deployment Strategy and provide the basis for further development of pilot facilities, industrial scale demonstration for the most advanced P&T systems, involving sub-critical and/or critical systems, with a view to reducing the volumes and hazard of high-level long-lived radioactive waste issuing from treatment of spent nuclear fuel. Advanced experimental tests, infrastructures, as well as numerical simulation tools will be required to conduct these interdisciplinary research activities. Full advantage should be taken from the existing European research institution networks fostering further integration, and where International Cooperation could be highly beneficial in this area.

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 (see Conditions for the Call- Eligibility and admissibility conditions).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the Euratom Programme up to EUR 6.0 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts

An open fuel cycle uses only a few portion 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 whilst also offering major advantages in terms of the use of the uranium resource and potentially increased proliferation resistance. The EU benefits from extensive operational experience in this domain, which is unique in the world. This experience should be exploited and extended in order 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 (P&T) processes for suitable recycling strategies, development and qualification, and safety assessment of innovative fuels and claddings for advanced Generation-IV systems.

This action will strengthen important Euratom research undertaken in previous programmes and make real advances towards safe realisation of P&T processes, a key component of future fuel cycle strategies, whether sub-critical ADS or critical Generation-IV reactors. This research will enhance any efficiency and safety of processes using state-of-the-art P&T technology towards a closure of the nuclear fuel cycle. Even if a final repository would still be needed, the P&T would drastically reduce the radiotoxicity, the heat production and package volume of high-level radioactive wastes, thereby easing the long-term safety of a final repository.