|Consumption of nuclear power in 2005 by GIF countries and Russia and China. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy announced that China and Russia are expected to join the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), a 11-member R&D consortium chartered in 2001 to investigate next-generation nuclear energy system concepts. (Earlier post.)
Current GIF members include Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Euratom, France, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States, with the OECD-Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency as permanent observers.
The GIF Policy Group voted unanimously to extend an offer of membership to China and Russia. China and Russia’s formal entry into GIF is expected to be finalized by November 2006.
We are pleased that China and Russia will bring their considerable technical capabilities to the Generation IV International Forum as we work globally to develop the next generation of nuclear power reactors. As global demand for electricity soars, and as we seek to diversify our nation’s energy mix, the use of nuclear power is becoming an increasingly valuable, large-scale, reliable, and non-emitting base load source of energy.—Dennis Spurgeon, DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy
Senior representatives from GIF participate in a range of committees that coordinate the research activities required to develop the six next generation nuclear energy systems selected by GIF in its December 2002, Generation IV Roadmap. These six concepts are:
- Gas-cooled fast reactor
- Lead-cooled fast reactor
- Molten salt reactor
- Sodium-cooled fast reactor
- Supercritical water-cooled reactor
- Very-high-temperature reactor
While the US DOE is supporting research on several reactor concepts, it is giving priority to the Very-High-Temperature Reactor (VHTR) system, which can co-produce electricity and hydrogen. In June, the DOE began seeking expressions of interest from prospective industry teams interested in participating in the development and conceptual design for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) (earlier post), a very high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor prototype with the capability to produce process heat, electricity and/or hydrogen.