6 May (NucNet): France and Japan will cooperate on the development of Generation IV fast breeder reactors (FBR) including the Astrid project, which is under development in France.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande agreed to “intensify their civil nuclear research,” according to a joint statement yesterday following a meeting between the two leaders in Paris.
As part of Mr Abe’s state visit, the Japanese ministries of economy and science, and France’s atomic research institute France’s Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (atomic and alternative energy commission; CEA), signed an accord that includes cooperation the Generation IV prototype sodium-cooled fast reactor Astrid (Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration).
Astrid will be built at CEA’s Marcoule nuclear site in France. CEA is leading the Astrid project and will design the reactor core and fuel. Areva will design the nuclear steam supply system, and will be responsible for I&C (instrumentation and control) and the nuclear auxiliaries.
An agreement to develop Astrid was signed between the French government and the CEA on 9 September 2010. It gave CEA overall responsibility for the project, providing 652 million euro (about 900 million US dollars) for the programme until completion of the design phase.
Fast neutron reactor projects, which are being explored or constructed in India, Russia, China and Japan, would allow a significant increase in the amount of energy obtained from either depleted or natural uranium.
The technology would also enable plutonium to be used and recycled several times, and minor actinides to be recycled.
The cooperation will also give France the opportunity to carry out tests for Astrid at the Monju FBR in Japan. Monju has been offline since August 2010 because of failures in inspection procedures.
Monju initially started in August 1995, but was shut down four months later after about 700 kilogrammes of liquid sodium leaked from the secondary cooling loop.
The two countries also announced that France’s Areva and Japan’s Atox, a maintenance services company for nuclear facilities in Japan, are forming a 50-50 joint venture called Anadec to provide decommissioning and dismantling services for Japanese nuclear power plants.
The venture will operate as early as this year at the damaged Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant, Areva said.
A Franco-Japan joint venture between Areva and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries intends to sell reactors to “other countries” including Vietnam, another statement said.
Japan and Turkey have already signed an agreement that could lead to the construction of Turkey’s second nuclear power station with four Atmea1 reactor units, a design developed by the Areva-MHI joint venture Atmea.