Nuclearelectrica to cooperate in development of ALFRED

07 October 2019

Romanian utility Nuclearelectrica has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Fostering ALFRED Construction (Falcon) consortium regarding cooperation on the development of the Advanced Lead Fast Reactor European Demonstrator (ALFRED). A demonstration unit is planned to be constructed in Romania.

A cutaway of the ALFRED reactor design (Image: Ansaldo Nucleare)

The MoU was signed on 3 October by Nuclearelectrica and the members of the Falcon consortium: Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA) and Ansaldo Nucleare, as well as Romania's Nuclear Research Institute (Institutul de Cercetari Nucleare, ICN). The consortium was created in December 2013. The original signatories of the consortium decided in November 2017 to increase their level of commitment by renewing the consortium, strengthening forces toward the achievement of the objective.

The agreement aims to put in place a cooperation framework between Nuclearelectrica and the Falcon consortium regarding the pre-project works and the research and development activities which are to be implemented in order to develop the ALFRED project.

The parties have agreed on the exchange of information and data regarding the technology of molten lead-cooled fast neutron reactors; the coordination of the research activities; the in-kind contribution depending on the expertise and capabilities of each party; the studies and analyses independently conducted by each party for their organisation; and the planning of the necessary framework for preparing the demonstration activities.

A 300 MWt demonstration ALFRED unit will be built at ICN's facility in Mioveni, near Pitesti in southern Romania, where a fuel manufacturing plant is in operation for the country's two operating Candu reactors. ALFRED is seen as a prelude to an industrial demonstration unit of about 300-400 MWe. The lead-cooled reactor will employ mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel and will operate at temperatures of around 550°C. It features passive safety systems. The total cost of the project is put at some EUR1.0 billion (USD1.1 billion).

The conceptual design of the ALFRED reactor and the integrated project were led by Ansaldo Nucleare under the seventh Euratom framework programme. ENEA performed the core design, the technological development and the safety analyses through numerical and experimental approaches.

The reactor is being developed through the European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII), which brings together industry and research partners in the development of so-called Generation IV Fast Neutron Reactor technology, as part of the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan. ESNII was set up under the umbrella of the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform, formed in 2007 and bringing together more than 90 stakeholders involved in nuclear fission.

"In an international environment in which the environment policies and measures significantly reconfigure the energy industry, and the solution comes from a well-thought mixture of sources with low CO2 emissions, the development of nuclear technologies in order to constantly improve security, savings and flexibility has become a necessity," said Nuclearelectrica CEO Cosmin Ghita. "Globally, there are few states that develop nuclear technologies, Romania being one of them, and the ALFRED project is considered on an international level a promising state-of-the-art technology. It is a complex project, with many benefits related to technology, security and savings, which we wish to commercially operate in as many states as possible after the completion of the project.

"The cooperation for the development of this project is essential, and this MoU is proof of the responsibility and involvement of the Romanian nuclear industry, overall, in the development of the nuclear programme, and in providing innovative solutions on international level."

ICN Director Constantin Paunoiu said: "The ALFRED project represents the contribution of Romania to the development of the 4th Generation reactors, an innovative project on international level, and a long-term necessity for ensuring the contribution of nuclear energy to a clean and stable energy mix.

"Nuclear energy is a definite solution in reaching and maintaining the decarbonisation targets. For ICN, the development of the new 4th Generation nuclear technologies is an immediate priority. The effort is integrated in attempting to place Romania on the very short list of innovative states and in order to have long- and very-long-term solutions."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News