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Science and Technology of Nuclear Installations
Volume 2009, Article ID 238624, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2009/238624
Project Report

Gas Cooled Fast Reactor Research and Development in the European Union

1AMEC, Booths Park, Chelford Road, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 8QZ, UK
2Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, CEA Cadarache, 13108 Saint Paul Les Durance, France
3Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen PSI, Villigen 5232, Switzerland
4Joint Research Centre, Institute for Transuranic Elements (ITU), P.O. Box 2340, Karlsruhe 76125, Germany

Received 7 April 2009; Accepted 14 October 2009

Academic Editor: Guglielmo Lomonaco

Copyright © 2009 Richard Stainsby et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Gas-cooled fast reactor (GFR) research is directed towards fulfilling the ambitious goals of Generation IV (Gen IV), that is, to develop a safe, sustainable, reliable, proliferation-resistant and economic nuclear energy system. The research is directed towards developing the GFR as an economic electricity generator, with good safety and sustainability characteristics. Fast reactors maximise the usefulness of uranium resources by breeding plutonium and can contribute to minimising both the quantity and radiotoxicity nuclear waste by actinide transmutation in a closed fuel cycle. Transmutation is particularly effective in the GFR core owing to its inherently hard neutron spectrum. Further, GFR is suitable for hydrogen production and process heat applications through its high core outlet temperature. As such GFR can inherit the non-electricity applications that will be developed for thermal high temperature reactors in a sustainable manner. The Euratom organisation provides a route by which researchers in all European states, and other non-European affiliates, can contribute to the Gen IV GFR system. This paper summarises the achievements of Euratom's research into the GFR system, starting with the 5th Framework programme (FP5) GCFR project in 2000, through FP6 (2005 to 2009) and looking ahead to the proposed activities within the 7th Framework Programme (FP7).