Testing and validating the safety assessments of small modular reactors


Meeting opening, from left to right: Xiaoyu Zhang (IAEA), Benoît Lepouzé (IAEA), Eve-Lyne Pelletier (IAEA), Martina Adorni (NEA), Aline des Cloizeaux (IAEA, Director Nuclear Power division), Shahen Poghosyan (IAEA).

An increasing number of SMR designs under development are attracting the interest of countries around the world. The appeal of these designs lies in the potentially easier access they to provide to nuclear energy, including because they would require a smaller amount of upfront capital and shorter construction time thanks to in-factory module manufacturing.

However, such innovations require experimental testing to be carried out and safety analysis computer codes to be developed or validated outside of their current domain of validity.

The NEA works with the International Atomic Energy Agency in this area and on 18-21 June 2024 chaired in Vienna the Interregional Workshop on Experimental Testing and Validation for Design and Safety Analysis Computer Codes for Small Modular Reactors. This event, organised by the IAEA, was convened to share experience and information on experimental testing and code validation for SMRs to identify current needs and gaps, and to discuss the potential for collaboration, resource sharing and work on globally recognised common approaches. 

This workshop gathered 77 participants from 29 countries and 4 international organisations (the IAEA, NEA, Generation IV International Forum and European Commission).

Picture3Opening of the meeting, with a speech by Véronique Rouyer, Head of Division, Nuclear Safety Technology and Regulation at the NEA.

The NEA, through the work of its Working Group on the Analysis and Management of Accidents (WGAMA), contributes and promotes reliable reactor safety assessments by providing validation methods and experimental data for the validation of safety codes, such as on passive systems, uncertainty quantification, scaling and user effect.

In this context, the IAEA collaborates closely with the NEA through NEXSHARE, a network that provides a database of experimental facilities applicable to SMRs, publications and events as well as ongoing and potential collaboration.

NHSI2From left to right: Benoît Lepouzé (IAEA), Xiaoyu Zhang (IAEA), Eve-Lyne Pelletier (IAEA), Martina Adorni (NEA), Anna Bradford (IAEA), Shahen Poghosyan (IAEA)

It is essential to evaluate and demonstrate to which extent these computer codes would be applicable to advanced reactor designs, including SMRs. Effective co-ordination with other international activities enables each organisation to bring its capacities, competencies and resources to address these complex matters.

See also