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24 December, 2014

Five-Party Conference on ASTRID

At a regular meeting of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), held on December 10, officials from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) explained about the current state of cooperation in the [French] Advanced Sodium Technical Reactor for Industrial Demonstration (ASTRID).

Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan, released in April 2014, states that “global networks for cooperation will be tapped to develop technologies for decreasing the radiation dose remaining in radioactive waste over long periods and for enhancing the safety of processing and disposal of such waste, including nuclear transmutation technology through fast reactors and accelerators.

The plan also encourages the pursuit of R&D on fast reactors and the like through cooperation with such countries as the United States and France.

In May, an agreement had been signed at the Japan-France Summit Meeting concerning the general arrangement for cooperation to develop fast reactor technologies, including ASTRID.

In response to that, the so-called “five-party conference” — consisting of MEXT, METI, the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) of Japan, the Japan Electrical Manufacturers’ Association (JEMA) and JAEA — agreed in June 2014 on ways to cooperate on matters relating to ASTRID.

It will promote the development of important fast reactor technology, which will be also helpful in establishing demonstration technology for Japan’s FBRs. To those ends, it will gather technological knowledge and knowhow on tank-type reactors, while also considering international trends in fast reactor development, and will collect information on design evaluations.

Given that ASTRID will advance from the stage of conceptual design to basic design in 2016, it will be necessary, by the end of the current fiscal year (i.e., March 2015), to address international trends in fast reactor development, as well to look at various technological aspects, including seismicity, safety, reliability, scale of output and economic efficiency. It will also be necessary to determine Japan’s stance on development cooperation.

In August 2014, JAEA, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mitsubishi FBR Systems, Inc. concluded an agreement with the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission and Areva NP on implementing cooperation for both the ASTRID project and a sodium-cooled fast reactor.

The Japanese and French will combine forces to improve the safety of generation-IV reactors, making use of each side’s knowhow in designing systems to remove decay heat, as well as reactor shut-down systems and base-isolation systems.


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