Bouygues Construction is to collaborate with France's CEA on the design and construction of the Astrid reactor prototype. Ten organisations are now involved in the project.
The name Astrid is derived from its description as an Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration and it represents a technology platform that France would like to have available for use in around 2040. Leading the project, the CEA is developing the detailed design of the reactor to a point that French leaders could make a decision in 2017 on building a prototype which could operate in 2020 and produce 600 MWe. Some €650 million ($807 million) was allocated to the project in 2010.
|Astrid's primary circuit (Image: CEA)
Bouygues' involvement would be to collaborate with CEA on studies of civil engineering for the prototype, help evaluate different design options for the nuclear portion of the plant, and conduct further research on structural concrete.
Astrid's technology promises a number of advances on current mainstream light-water reactors. It could form part of a 'closed' nuclear fuel cycle, generating power while also burning actinides and transmuting the long-lived and highly radioactive actinides found in used nuclear fuel into shorter-lived species that are easier to dispose of. It should be able to operate with the same levels of safety and reliability as current models while security would be improved by the destruction of fuel materials that could theoretically be used in weapons.
About 500 people are working towards Astrid, with around half of these coming from industry:
Alstom: Energy conversion system
Areva: Steam supply, auxiliaries, instrumentation and control
Bouygues: Civil engineering
CEA: Project control, overall architecture, core and fuel design
Coméx Nucleaire: Robotics and handling
EDF: Project management, sharing operating experience
Jacobs France: Common resources and infrastructure
Toshiba: Large electromagnetic pumps
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News