CORDIS - EU research results

Preparation of ALLegro - Implementing Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle in Central Europe

Final Report Summary - ALLIANCE (Preparation of ALLegro - Implementing Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle in Central Europe)

Executive Summary:
Gas Cooled Fast Reactor was selected as one of the potential Generation-4 (G4) systems by the Generation IV International Forum (GIF). Fast reactors will play a decisive role in developing the sustainable use of nuclear energy. Nuclear reactors with fast neutron spectrum (fast reactors) are to be developed and deployed in due time to make the use of nuclear energy sustainable by solving the closure of the fuel cycle.
Gas cooled fast reactors (GFR) represent one of the three European candidate fast reactor types, the two other being sodium cooled fast reactor (SFR) and lead cooled fast reactor (LFR). Technically, GFR is a realistic and promising complementary option thanks to its specific advantages connected with high temperatures.
The GFR concept was mainly based on studies performed in France in the late 90-ies and was further developed within the EU 5th and 6th Framework Programmes respectively. It also included the development and safety assessment of a small experimental plant called at the time ETDR (Experimental Technology Demonstration Reactor).The concept was further analysed and refined by the EU FP7 GoFastR project: the ETDR has been renamed ALLEGRO and a number of design changes were introduced, e.g. the power was raised from the original 50 MWth to 75 MWth.
The three respective nuclear research institutes of the Central European region (ÚJV, Řež, Czech Republic, MTA EK, Budapest, Hungary, and VÚJE, a.s. Trnava, Slovakia) agreed in 2010 to start a joint project aiming at the preparation of the basic documents in order to form the basis for a later decision on the construction and operation of the ALLEGRO gas cooled fast reactor in one of the countries.NCBJ Świerk, Poland, joined the project in 2012, i.e. ALLEGRO is supported in all the four Visegrad-4 (V4) countries.
The ALLEGRO consortium is represented by V4G4 Centre for Excellence, a legal entity registered in Slovakia. The main goal of V4G4 is to establish R&D facilities to investigate fuel development issues, helium technology related problems, issues related to structural materials and to construct a non-nuclear 1:1 mock-up of ALLEGRO. V4G4 is aimed at generate experimental results on the new facilities for developing the gas cooled fast reactor demonstrator ALLEGRO.
Safety analysis performed within the previous EU GoFastR project covered the consequences of most initiating events and most of the ALLEGRO relevant issues were analysed.Safety principles of the ALLEGRO reactor will be based on the WENRA requirements and the study of GIF, added to the actual national safety rules of the hosting country. Moreover, in formulating siting requirements and requirements concerning the design to reduce the impact of external hazards, the results of the European stress tests following the Fukushima events were applied. Nevertheless the current design of ALLEGRO does not fully satisfy these requirements.
A new strategy for developing the ALLEGRO reactor was prepared, and accepted by the partners in 2015. The main components of this strategy are: (a) to reduce ALLEGRO power from 75 MWth to 10 MWth and to find the optimum core configuration (switch from MOX to UO2); (b) to optimize nitrogen injection (launch time, duration) and the backup pressure in guard containment; (c) to increase main blowers inertia to avoid short term peak temperature for the LOCA+ blackout case and/or to develop a design with a gas turbine in the secondary side coupled to the primary blowers (this is the solution also advised for GFR).

Project Context and Objectives:
The ALLIANCE project focused on the preparatory phase for developing the ALLEGRO demonstrator. This is based on the Gas Fast Reactor (GFR) concept, one of the two alternative systems under the SET-Plan’s European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII), expected to be built in Central Europe. ALLIANCE covered a number of preliminary studies on fuel management, R&D roadmap & infrastructures needs, and siting, as well as the licensing roadmap, preliminary design and safety analysis. ALLIANCE integrated experience and knowledge gained from the past or ongoing related initiatives.

Furthermore map and highlight of national or regional initiatives supporting the development of this technology. The conditions for the site selection were also defined within this project. In addition the project specification on licensing and construction period was analysed, based on the existing design of the reactor. Specifications were elaborated for the R&D activities as well as for the operational and decommissioning phases.

In order to better organize the R&D work during the preparatory phase, the V4G4 Centre of Excellence was created in Central Europe for GFR studies. The creation of the Centre is the first step towards integration of fuel and reactor safety research in the region.
The member organizations within the ALLIANCE project are as follows:
1. MTA Centre for Energy Research (MTA EK) – Hungary, Coordinator of the Project
2. UJV Rez. A.S (UJV)– Czech Republic
3. VUJE A.S (VUJE)– Slovakia
4. Comissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternative (CEA) – France
5. Rheinisch- Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen (INBK) – Germany
6. Institute de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) – France
7. Narodowe Centrum Badan Jadrowych (NCBJ) – Poland
8. BME Nukleáris Technika Intézet (BME NTI) – Hungary
9. Centrum Vyzkumu Rez S.R.O (CVR) – Czech Republic

The project is organized in six technical and one project management workpackages. The project participants met regularly for discussing the achievements and open issues. In parallel to this project, the Steering Committee of the ALLEGRO project, which consists the leaders of V4 nuclear institutes and CEA (France), has project meetings two-three times a year in order to discuss the political and financial background in the respective countries. In the future, the V4G4 will take the role of organizing the high level actions in the member countries.

Project Results:
Preparation of the Roadmap of ALLEGRO demonstrator (WP2)

The objective of WP2 is setting up the preliminary content, order and timing of phases and milestones, leading to the construction and operation of demonstration gas cooled fast reactor ALLEGRO. The design of the demonstrator was first elaborated by CEA, and the technical documents were transferred to the ALLEGRO partners. This design is the basis for the safety analysis in the ALLIANCE project. Nevertheless, with respect to the changes in the safety requirements after the Fukushima accident, the design concept had been further developed. The time needed for the elaboration of the new design was estimated around 12-18 months which could jeopardize the delivery of the project activities in the Safety workpackage (WP5). In order to launch the technical work within ALLIANCE without the delay, the participants decided to launch the project with the original CEA design as input for the safety analysis, and report the progress of the new design in parallel.

The Deliverable D2.1 was prepared with the title „Interim report on ALLEGRO Roadmap” summarizing the status of the work at the beginning of the project. The roadmap summarizes the actions needed for the preparation of the high level decision on the construction of the reactor. The report was delivered in the first half of the project.

The Deliverable D2.2 is an overview of the history of the ALLEGRO project and the scientific-technological and industrial-political inputs, which might have impact on the decision process of the project. The report summarizes also the conclusions of the recent discussions on governance and financing questions. Since the begining of the project, the scope and aim of the report has been slightly changed.

The Deliverable D2.3 „Report on the Roadmap of Design, Construction and Operation of ALLEGRO” summarizes the necessary steps for licensing, construction and operation of the reactor, including also the conclusions of other workpackages. The organization of D2.3 is as follows:

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Preparatory Phase
Chapter 3. Licensing and construction phase
Chapter 4. Operation of ALLEGRO
Chapter 5. Decomissioning phase

The ALLEGRO demonstrator of GFR technology itself is expected to be a unique facility for testing the ceramic fuel, helium- and other GFR-related technologies. The special value of ALLEGRO will be the prototypic GFR environment (neutron flux, temperature, pressure, coolant physics & chemistry).
The ALLEGRO Project requires significant development in leading edge technologies. The construction of ALLEGRO will also need the highest level I&C systems with sensors operable in extreme conditions, special refractory materials which can tolerate high level of irradiation, fundamentally new optical measuring devices, etc. Reactor ALLEGRO will be a test facility not only for the GFR technologies but also for advanced technologies requiring high temperatures (e.g. hydrogen production) or new types of nuclear fuel making possible for burning of minor actinides. The significance of latest nuclear technology is very high; it may improve the entire technological level in the region.
This means that companies participating in the construction of the ALLEGRO reactor (at any phase of design, construction and operation) get information how to build commercial reactors of this type.
ALLEGRO should be able to offer the following (especially long-term) services:
• GFR fuel testing,
• Irradiation and testing of structural materials,
• Testing of components – mainly decay heat removal system,
• Testing of thermal shield,
• Testing of leak tightness of components
• Testing of instrumentation,
• Testing of optical measurement techniques.
The time to ALLEGRO service is tightly bound with the commissioning of ALLEGRO and the length of the period, necessary for remedy of problems usually associated with commissioning of new nuclear reactors. The end of this period is the time, when ALLEGRO becomes ready to receive the first experimental ceramic fuel assembly. If the commissioning of ALLEGRO is expected before 2027, the services in ALLEGRO should be available before 2028-2030.
The Milestones MS1 “Draft of Licensing Roadmap” reached with the completion of D2.1 and the other milestone MS2 met after some delay with the completion of D2.2.

Elaborating the Design Safety concept (WP3)

The WP3 objective is to elaborate for each components of the ALLEGRO reactor a description about the function, main parameters, requirements and its cooperation with other systems. The description of the system and the classification of the components follow the relevant IAEA guides.

The report D3.1 on „Interim report on ALLEGRO design safety concept” is finished during the first 18 months. The report D3.2 is the final (and a more complete ) version of D3.1.
Preparatory phase of ALLEGRO demonstrator development is connected with the elaboration of its design safety concept. For each ALLEGRO system description of function, characterization of main parameters, important requirements, cooperation with other systems, justification of design concept, rules and standards and accessibility of the system is prepared. Document content and completeness are influenced by unclear concept features (especially those of cooling circuits) of the reactor ALLEGRO. Two cooling circuits with water at the secondary side – which is the original CEA concept and described in the GoFastR project final documents - is taken into account in WP5 “Safety and licensing”.

The report D3.3 „Applicability of the ISAM methodology for the present status ALLEGRO design” makes an attempt to test the safety assessment methodology developed by the Risk and Safety Working Group of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF). The ISAM consists of five distinct steps and the corresponding analytical tools: QSR (qualitative safety features review), PIRT (phenomena identification ranking table), OPT (objective provision tree), PSA (probabilistic safety analysis) and DPA (deterministic and phenomenological analysis). It is intended that each tool be used to answer specific kinds of safety-related questions in differing degrees of detail, and at different stages of design maturity.
The report summarizes the challenges and questions related to the applicability of this method to the existing ALLEGRO design.
The Milestone MS3 on the spent fuel handling strategy is reached, and the spent fuel handling is part of the deliverable D3.1.

Experimental support to design work (WP4)

The objective of WP4 is to prepare testing of technological elements of the reactor and to prepare ALLEGRO as a fast spectrum test reactor for the European landscape. Two testing programs are considered:
• Formulation of a R&D program including experimental support for the ALLEGRO design. The outcome of the tests (started during the preparatory phase, when possible) will iteratively influence the final ALLEGRO reactor design. This phase is organized by the V4G4 Centre of Excellence.
• The program of tests to be performed during the ALLEGRO reactor operation. The program should be taken into account during the ALLEGRO design preparation.
The reports D4.1-D4.3 were prepared in the first 18 months of the project, and there is no further update made.
The design of ALLEGRO is built on the experience of other gas cooled high temperature reactors. In the preparatory phase, the qualifications of the different systems, components and materials are the priority areas for the experimental support program.
The interim report D4.1 formulates the draft of the currently most important R&D topics from the following areas:
• Decay heat removal (DHR)
• Fuel, sub-assembly & core design including materials
• Helium technology (helium tightness, management of helium quality, ...)
• Components design, testing & qualification
• Materials development & testing
• Core instrumentation & control

The report D4.2 beeing a more complete version of D4.1 provides additional information on the R&D actions needed for the operational phase of ALLEGRO, in the following the structure:
• Brief identification of the required R&D on each item
• Identification of the existing knowledge, data and & potential use of existing experimental facilities (using the report from FP7 ADRIANA project)
• Identification of new experimental facilities needed (goals, parameters, ...)
• First estimate of financial needs

In parallel to the experimental tools, once the final design will be available, the safety analysis will require up to date and validated software codes. The issue on the code development was discussed during the 2nd working group meeting. The codes for analyzing the safety of the ALLEGRO design are provided by CEA for the participants. However, according to a high level decision on the CEA research strategy, CEA will not continue in the future to support the R&D activities of the gas cooled fast reactor. The question on the future validation of the core design codes remains unanswered.

The legal framework and the eligibility of ALLEGRO for tax exemptions is discussed in the report D4.3. ALLEGRO is considered to be a European research facility, offering services not only for the industry but also open access for research institutions to the irradiation facilities. In order to make ALLEGRO eligible for European funds, the demonstrator reactor should be on the Roadmap of the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures), and define its role as an European research facility. The actual list of research infrastructures on the ESFRI Roadmap will be revised soon, and the respective Committee will start a survey in the near future. The ALLEGRO demonstrator will be built in the next decade, but for getting support for the preparatory work, the Consortium should submit an application to the ESFRI Committee.

Safety and Licensing (WP5)

The objective of the Safety and Licensing workpackage is to elaborate the Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (PSAR). The safety approach of the ALLEGRO reactor has already been developed within FP6 and FP7 projects related to the GFR concept. The latest developments are summarised in the viability report of ALLEGRO produced within the GoFastR project. For the safety analysis, recent developments within the FP7 SARGEN IV project, as well as the relevant IAEA and WENRA documents are taken into account. The safety analysis is performed by computer codes and it is a basic requirement of safety that the codes applied for safety assessment should be properly validated. A review of the available document and validation results were made in D5.1.
The report D5.2 is a more complete version of D5.1. The participants agreed that the content of the different Safety Analysis Reports varies according to the requirements in the country. The report D5.2 in the present form covers the Introductory Safety Analysis Report and constructed on the basis of current US and Hungarian principles.

A special report, D5.3 was prepared to cover the case of severe accidents, describing the results of certain analysis made by MELCOR code. The details on the input data and design are described in the report. The results showed that at least one DHR (Decay Heat Removal) should be operational; otherwise the core will melt very quickly.

As an additional report, different from the deliverables written in the Description of Work of the project, was prepared under the title “Interim Safety Analysis Report of ALLEGRO reactor” (ISAR). The ISAR Chapters were prepared in accordance with the promises made in the D5.2 report which had the purpose to review ISAR. This additional material can be used as a starting point for documenting the development in ALLEGRO design.
The ISAR report is attached to the present document as Appendix II.

The report D5.4 is the “Conceptual Safety Features Review File”, which is the basic document for defining the licensing process with the safety authorities. The basic problem of selecting the approach is connected with the fact that the safety assessment practices for GEN IV nuclear power plants are not harmonized. It is difficult to wait for an internationally accepted approach. There is an apparent contradiction on one hand in the original direction of Generation 4 works which assumed that the safety level reached by Generation 3+ plants is satisfactory and the Generation 4 development shall be oriented towards closing the fuel cycle in a proliferation resistant manner and on the other hand in the more actual declarations of various European experts on the need of exceeding the safety level of Generation 3+ plants under construction. Not mentioning the adverse effects of such statements on the efforts of nuclear industry and public acceptance of nuclear energy in general, the reaching of an even higher safety level remains a brake as long as its content is not properly defined. The increased attention towards natural catastrophes and even their combination is understandable after the Fukushima events, however, the safety level of the Fukushima Daichi plant is already exceeded by almost all the existing nuclear plants. Therefore the ALLEGRO community starts from the simple point of view that the safety level of ALLEGRO and other Generation 4 reactors shall be at least as high as the currently constructed Generation 3+ plants.

Dissemination of ALLIANCE results (WP6)

This task, active all over the project duration is dedicated to dissemination of the major outcomes and especially of the network activity. The following dissemination tasks were described in the Description of Work document: i) Elaboration of the communication plan, ii) prepare a report on the project presentation, iii) elaboration of a project website.
The reports D6.1 and D6.3 on the communication plan and the project website were prepared in the first half of the project. The project documents, reports are uploaded to the website which has a public and a restricted storage for the participants. Part of these activities was completed during the first year of the project.
A final workshop was also organized at the end of the project, where participants and the members of the OECD GIF Gas Fast Reactor Project were also invited. The workshop has given an overview of the progress of the technical work elaborated in each partner Institute. In addition to the technical discussions, the participants discussed the future involvement of ALLEGRO in the GIF GFR Project. The dissemination activity is summarized in the report D6.2.
Although ALLIANCE project is not typical project which has the goal to publish the results to the public, a number of conference talk, poster were prepared.

Integrated management of ALLEGRO (WP7)

The workpackage objectives are the analysis of the existing governance structures; issues related to intellectual property rights and prepare a financial analysis of ALLEGRO project.

The creation of the Association “V4G4 Centre of Excellence” with the aim to organize the research work during the preparatory phase of ALLEGRO, has been completed during the summer of 2013. The public event organized by MTA EK in Budapest was announced among the V4 countries, and a press release was issued. The Contract on Establishment was signed by the representatives of VUJE, UJV, NCBJ and MTA EK. The report D7.2 on the Centre of Excellence was issued to document the creation of the legal entity.
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Association were elected as Mr. János Gadó and Mr. Peter Liska, respectively. In the next decades the ALLEGRO project and the V4G4 Centre of Excellence will be a cohesion force in the region for leading edge research and technology and will provide an excellent opportunity for industries of high added value.

Investment of the new laboratories to be built in the framework of the V4G4 Centre of Excellence will be financed from the structural funds of the V4 countries. Experiments, system qualification and other preparatory works will provide by 2018 the governments of the V4 region a sound basis to decide on launching the design, licensing and construction of the ALLEGRO reactor, on selecting the site of the reactor and on financing and governance matters.
It was demontstrated in the Safety and Licensing workpackage (WP5) that the existing conceptual design of the ALLEGRO reactor, elaborated by CEA earlier and refined later by the GoFastR project has severe safety deficiencies, especially if the most up-to-date safety requirements are considered. Therefore a new conceptual design has to be elaborated. The Design and Safety Roadmap was elaborated which consists of about 80 tasks in order to elaborate a new conceptual design with satisfactory safety features by 2025. A pre-conceptual design will be prepared and discussed on the European level by 2020. The Roadmap clearly fixes the achievements needed for the pre-conceptual design and the conceptual design by tasks. Leading and participating member organisations are declared for each task. The manpower needed and eventual investment costs are also estimated per task. The first version of the Research-Development-Qualification Roadmap is also prepared. It consists of those experimental tasks which are necessary to complete in order to ensure a sound basis for the design.
Due to this new situation, the governance of the ALLEGRO Project – Preparatory Phase somehow deviates from the governance in the preliminary phase. Other than EC funding, each partner is responsible for the financing of his contribution to the ALLEGRO/V4G4 project. Governance of the preparatory phase corresponds to this type of project financing.
As a consequence of the modified research strategy, the ALLEGRO Project is divided into two phases. The first phase (ALLEGRO Project – Preparatory Phase, 2015-2025) was launched on July 1, 2015. The basic aim of this first phase is to prepare a conceptual design of the ALLEGRO reactor that will satisfy all up-to-date safety requirements and which is supported by experimental studies.
It is decided that governance in this phase will be arranged by appropriate decision of the V4G4 Centre of Excellence, by approving the Design-Safety Roadmap, the Research-Development-Qualification Roadmap and the Documentation Management Arrangement, and in addition to that by signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement and an Intellectual Property Right Agreement. The changes in the strategy are then reflected by the deliverables of the ALLIANCE project as well.

The original list of deliverables in WP7 was as follows:
D7-1 Report on the governance studies of ALLEGRO
D7-2 V4G4
D7-3 ALLEGRO financing analysis and identification of potential partners
D7-4 Analysis of the possible common organizational – legal framework
D7-5 The ALLEGRO Consortium Agreement

The first phase of the ALLEGRO Project will be managed by the V4G4 Centre of Excellence. This complex of legal arrangements will serve as a substitute of a Consortium Agreement.
Therefore it was proposed to rearrange deliverables in the following logical way:

D7-1 Governance of ALLEGRO in the preparatory phase (2015-2025) that would cover
• The original D7-1 as much as it is about the studies which preceded the launch of the ALLEGRO Project Preliminary Phase, and
• The original D7-5 as much as it contains the content of legal documents approved for the ALLEGRO Project Preliminary Phase (NDA, IPRA) instead of a Consortium Agreement.

D7-2 was already published, parallel to the creation of V4G4 Centre for Excellence (see above).

D7-3 Analysis of financing and the possible common organizational – legal framework in the second phase (after 2025) that would cover
• The original D7-1 as much as it is about the studies on the second phase of the ALLEGRO Project,
• The original D7-3 ALLEGRO financing analysis and identification of potential partners, and
• The original D7-4 Analysis of the possible common organizational – legal framework.

The role of the V4G4/ALLEGRO Steering Committee remains unchanged. However, a Project Coordination Team was established with 1-3 members per partner. The Project Coordination Team is responsible for the technical management of the “ALLEGRO Project – Preparatory Phase”. Management of legal, financial and other non-technical issues of the “ALLEGRO Project – Preparatory Phase” remains the full responsibility of the Steering Committee. The Project Coordination Team accounts for its activity at each Steering Committee meeting.

The governance structure of the preparatory phase is basically identical with that of the preliminary phase. However, two additional important documents (Non-Disclosure Agreement and Intellectual Property Right Agreement) are prepared which serve as a Consortium Agreement and there is a preliminary agreement on quality and documentation management. The NDA document was completed and signed on July 1, 2015.

The Realisation Phase of the “ALLEGRO Project” will be started whenever the objectives of the Preparatory Phase are reached, approximately in 2025. The realisation phase will include the preparation of the basic design, licensing (site permit, construction license, etc.), construction, operation and decommissioning of the ALLEGRO reactor. Obviously, this phase will be completely different from the preparatory phase, as in the realisation phase a large amount of cash or in-kind contribution is needed and most of the activities shall be carried out by industrial companies rather than research organizations. Financing and governance issues of this phase are discussed in this deliverable.

The launching of the ALLEGRO Project – Preparatory Phase is an important milestone. A financing analysis shall be prepared in the preparatory phase. Financing analysis should cover the preparation of the basic design, licensing, construction, operation and decommissioning. Basically all the emerging costs should be predicted. The analysis requires many input data, not only from the design, but also from completely different areas as e.g. the number of employees during reactor operation. Another risky part of the analysis is the prediction of incomes during reactor operation when test loops and beams can be hired by users.

Realisation of the ALLEGRO project requires strong financial partners. The overall costs are estimated at the present stage to 3.4 G€, which will be actualized in connection with the preparation of the design. Moreover, costs always increase during long-term projects. Identification of partners and the negotiations with them should take place before the end of the preparatory phase. The details of the cost estimate are given in D7-3.

The desired and potentially possible governance structure applicable in the Realisation Phase was discussed within the ALLEGRO project almost from the very beginning. It was found that the existing EU structures (e.g. “ERIC – European Research Infrastructure Consortium”) are not applicable as they are appropriate only for infrastructures used for basic research and they practically exclude the joint financing by governments and the industry. In case of nuclear development infrastructures the contribution from both sides is absolutely needed. The arguments pointing out the inapplicability of ERIC are given in D7-3, where the basic ideas on the future governance structure are also discussed.

Potential Impact:
Main achievements of ALLIANCE project were presented in oral and written forms for participants of this project, nuclear professionals and general public. Although ALLIANCE project is not typical project which has the goal to publish the results to the public, a number of conference talk, poster were prepared, and the knowledge transfer was also demonstrated by the preparation of master thesis as well. In addition to the publications, a final workshop was also organized in Budapest, where participants and the members of the OECD GIF Gas Fast Reactor Project were also invited. The workshop has given an overview of the progress of the technical work elaborated in each partner Institute. In addition to the technical discussions, the participants discussed the future involvement of ALLEGRO in the GIF GFR Project. The dissemination activity is summarized in the report D6.2.
The project coordinator has been invited in the Advisory Panel of the Platenso project aiming at investigation of the socio-economic aspects of nuclear technology.

List of Websites:
The website is maintained by BME Nukleáris Technika Intézet (BME NTI), director Dr. Szabolcs Czifrus