29 Jun (NucNet): Westinghouse Electric Company and eight European consortium partners have received €2 million ($2.2m) in funding from the European Union to establish the security of supply of nuclear fuel for Russian-designed reactors in the EU.
Westinghouse, part of the Toshiba group, said the project, known as Essanuf (European Supply of Safe Nuclear Fuel), focuses on licensing alternative nuclear fuel supplies for Russian-designed pressurised water reactors (VVERs) operating in the EU.
Five EU member states – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia – are operating a total of 18 such reactors, which are 100 percent dependent on supply from Russian fuel manufacturers.
These reactors provide up to 52 percent of the electricity supply in the member states where they operate. The EU funding is aimed at diversifying nuclear fuel sources in the short- to medium-term, Westinghouse said. Nuclear energy provides 55 percent of the EU’s low-carbon electricity.
“The decision by the EU to fund this project is significant,” said Yves Brachet, Westinghouse president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “It shows that the EU is serious about taking measures to improve its energy security through a diversification of its nuclear fuel sources.
“Currently, all Russian reactors in the EU have had to rely on Russian nuclear fuel. The project will help to strengthen and secure European supply of this fuel.”
The EU funding comes from the Euratom Research and Training Programme, which is part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme.
Westinghouse will act as project coordinator. The consortium partners are: Vuje (Slovakia); ÚJV Řež (Czech Republic); Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT, Finland); National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL, UK); NucleoCon (Slovakia); National Science Centre Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology (Ukraine); Institute for Transuranium Elements of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC-ITU); and Enusa Industrias Avanzadas (Enusa, Spain).
Westinghouse said each partner brings expertise in their chosen fields: Westinghouse, Enusa and NNL have considerable experience in developing, licensing and manufacturing Westinghouse VVER-440 fuel in combination with operating experience at the Loviisa nuclear station in Finland. Vuje, ÚJV Řež, LUT and NSC KIPT have extensive knowledge with regard to safety analysis, licensing and experience in working with the local authorities in their respective countries. The JRC-ITU and NucleoCon are experts on the development and adaption of the Trans-Uranus code, which is widely used and commonly available for fault analysis during the licensing process of pressurised water reactors.
There are 131 nuclear reactors in the EU, over 60 percent of which are based on Westinghouse technology, Westinghouse said. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia operate four Russian VVER-1000 and 14 VVER-440 type reactors.