Innovations in Water-cooled Reactor Technologies

Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant, Finland. Photo: Framatome.


A workshop on Innovations in Water-cooled Reactor Technologies was held at NEA Headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux on 11-12 February 2015. It gathered nearly 50 experts from 7 NEA member countries (Canada, Finland, France, Hungary, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States) as well as from the People's Republic of China. Representatives from regulators, utilities, vendors, research organisations and academia participated in the workshop. The workshop also gathered representatives from the NEA's Nuclear Safety Division and Nuclear Science Section.

The two-day workshop was organised into several sessions, addressing the evolution of utility requirements, perspectives of regulators, utilities, vendors and research organisations. Panel sessions were also organised at the end of each day.

The participant list and speaker profiles can be accessed here.


Day 1 - Requirements and regulation, utilities' perspectives


Session 1: Utility safety and performance requirements

Discussion on utility requirement documents in Europe and in the United States, and their evolution in time.

Chair: Jacques Pirson (GDF Suez)

Speakers: Joze Špiler  (Gen Energija, representing the EUR), Sang-Baik Kim  (NEA/NDD)


Session 2: Regulatory aspects

Evolution of regulatory requirements (historical perspective, feedback from nuclear accidents and international activities), innovative approaches to leverage resources and knowledge of the national regulators reviewing new reactor power plant designs.

Chair: Henri Paillère (NEA)

Speakers: Fabien Feron  (ASN/WENRA), Marja-Leena Järvinen  (STUK) and Julien Husse  (NEA/MDEP)


Session 3: Utilities

Nuclear operators were invited to discuss their views on innovations in advanced reactor designs, as well as modernisation of existing nuclear power plants.

Chair: Véronique Decobert (Westinghouse)

Speakers: Giovanni Ferraro  (EDF), Frank Bertels  (GDF-Suez), Wolfgang Denk  (Alpiq) and Harri Tuomisto  (Fortum)


Session 4: Roundtable discussion

This round table discussed some of the issues highlighted by the previous speakers, including the role of innovation and design in coping with severe accident initiators; nuclear power operation and safety challenges in future energy systems (load following, flexibility, smart grids, climate change); the back-fitting of advanced solutions in existing Gen II reactors (safety upgrades and long-term operation) andthe harmonisation of regulatory requirements and standardisation and evolution of new designs.

Moderator: Michael Golay  (MIT)

Panellists:  Véronique Decobert (Westinghouse), Bertand de l'Epinois (AREVA), Henri Pelin (WNA), Jacques Pirson (GDF-Suez), Giovanni Bruna (IRSN) and Jim Gulliford (NEA)


Day 2 - Vendor's and research organization's perspectives


Session 1a: Vendor perspectives

Vendors were invited to discuss innovations in reactor and fuel designs to address improved safety and economics. The discussion essentially addressed Gen III designs but also specific innovative features of Small Modular Reactors based on light water reactor technology.

Chair: Wolfgang Denk (Alpiq)

Speakers: Bertrand de l'Epinois  (AREVA) on EPR, Shin Whan Kim  (KEPCO) on APR1400, Jukka Laaksonen  (JSC "Rusatom Overseas") and Mikhail Maltsev  (JSC "Atomenergoproekt") on VVER, Hongxing Yu  (NPIC) on Hualong-1


Session 1b: Vendor perspectives (continued)

Chair: Harri Tuomisto (Fortum)

Speakers (15 minutes each): David Powell  (GE Hitachi), Julie Gorgemans  (Westinghouse), Jerry Hopwood  (CANDU Energy) and Igor Bylov  (OKBM) on SMRs


Session 2: Research organization perspectives

In this session, research organisations including technical safety organisations (TSOs) supporting regulators discussed long-term developments that could lead to innovations for future advanced water-cooled reactors and designs and their fuel cycle (e.g. accident-tolerant fuels). An update on safety research for water-cooled reactors performed under the NEA's Committee for the Safety of Nuclear Installations (CSNI) was also provided.

Chair: Fiona Rayment (NNL)

Speakers: Giovanni Bruna  (IRSN/NUGENIA), Jim Gulliford  (NEA/SCI), Rosaura Ham-Su  (CNL), Caroline Thevenot  (CEA), Michael Golay  (MIT) and Andrew White  (NEA/NSD)


Session 3: Roundtable discussion

In this final round table, a broad discussion took place on the future evolution of water reactor technologies in the 21st century, and the role of water-cooled Gen III reactors vs. the Gen IV reactors currently under development. The panel also discussed possible innovations that might be game-changers for the nuclear power sector versus other generation technologies and associated R&D needs.

Moderators: Marc Deffrennes and Henri Paillère (NEA/NDD)

Panellists: Abderrahim Al Mazouzi (EDF/NUGENIA), Patrick Dumaz (CEA), Henri Pelin (WNA), David Powell (GE Hitachi) and Hongxing Yu (NPIC)


Conclusion of the workshop