The FIDES framework will help regulators, their technical support organisations, research organisations and the industry to consolidate their needs and resources in order to create a dynamic for implementing Joint ExpErimental Programmes (JEEPs) in the key nuclear fuel and materials facilities around the world.
The safe, reliable and efficient operation of nuclear power plants requires nuclear fuel and materials (F&M) technology to evolve and for their performances to be optimised. Achieving this requires solid experimental evidence, which can only be obtained from test facilities with the ability to perform neutron irradiation under representative steady state or transient conditions. F&M test facilities are essential for:
However, the number of available test facilities around the world are in significant decline. In the past five years, several major research reactors that provided testing services for the nuclear community were shut down after over fifty years of service. These included the Halden reactor in Norway, the OSIRIS in France, the JMTR in Japan, the NRU in Canada, among others. Regulators and their technical support organisations, research organisations, and the industry all require F&M testing capacities on an ongoing basis. In particular, the availability of test facilities for loss-of-coolant accidents, reactivity-initiated accidents and power ramps, is crucial.
In recent months the NEA has organised a series of workshops, bringing together participants from utilities, fuel vendors, regulatory bodies and their technical support organisations, research institutes, and experimentalists. The discussions have confirmed that a multinational framework is required to address current and future experimental needs. As a result, the international community is now coming together under the aegis of an NEA initiative to form a new multinational framework for in-pile fuels and material testing as a new NEA joint research undertaking – the Framework for IrraDiation ExperimentS (FIDES). This long-term endeavour has received strong support from NEA member countries.
By consolidating the needs and resources from the involved parties, FIDES will provide the framework for implementing its Joint ExpErimental Programmes (JEEPs) in a co-ordinated way.
Contributions to the FIDES budget will be commensurate with those provided for the NEA Halden Reactor Project (HRP). They will finance cross cutting-activities and partly fund JEEPs. FIDES activities will be overseen by the Governing Board (GB). Parties wishing to initiate a JEEP will constitute the core group for the experimental campaign and provide a substantial part of its funding, the rest being covered with FIDES fees. The core group will retain exclusive rights to guide the experimental programme. The FIDES GB will approve each JEEP. As was the practice with the HRP, the data from each JEEP will be shared with all FIDES members. The FIDES structure and current JEEP proposals are shown in the figure above.
The FIDES framework will create a co-operative dynamic for sustained investment in the worldwide experimental capacity. These investments will include new experimental devices in existing facilities or new research reactors by:
Currently, six JEEPs at different stages of maturity have been proposed:
A meeting was organised in September 2019 to prepare the kick-off of FIDES, where the first three JEEP proposals and draft agreements for the Framework and JEEPs were reviewed. The NEA is currently updating the agreements to accommodate the feedback from participants, and intends to circulate the final versions of the agreements for in early 2020. FIDES and the most mature JEEP proposals, P2M, LOCA RIAR and INCA, are expected to start by 2021.
NEA invites interested organisations to support FIDES through:
For further information, please contact the NEA Secretariat:
Nuclear Energy Agency
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