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China and Russia to Join the Generation IV International Forum for Nuclear Systems

Gif
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.

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Comments

Bill Young

The Russians will bring a wealth of experience in lead cooled reactors from their naval program. I am not aware of anyone else that has done much with this. IMHO this is an inherently safer technology than sodium cooling.

I assume that all participants will recognize the Chinese penchant for purloining of intellectual property.

hampden wireless

If the chinese purloin nuclear and use it instead of coal we will all be better off. Right now they are building many new coal plants each month. Each nuclear plant prevents co2 from going into the air. If we use fast breeder reactors to reprocess the fuel the waste is not going to be a big issue. If we don't then the waste IS a big issue.

Bill Young

The Chinese have an ambitious nuclear building program already. The existing units are mostly Framatome and CANDU units. They are building some of their own design, a couple of Russian units and currently have 4 reactors in the bidding stage.

Fast breeders or burners are a good ultimate solution but they are not near term.

The Koreans are developing the DUPIC process to recycle used nuclear reactor fuel into fuel for a CANDU style reactor. The DUPIC process appears to be either a dry or near-dry process and would permit re-use of the US's extensive inventory of used fuel. After a cycle thru a CANDU the fuel could then be prepared for a fast reactor.

An analogous process which is used in Europe to produce MOX fuel is derivative from the weapons program and has a stream of purified Plutonium. It is also a liquid based process which is very corrosive and has been historically a contamination/leak problem.

no more wars

the state of washington defaulted on its public bond issue of $22 BILLION, sucked up investors dry (who else?), and is being sued by wall street, sweden closed all its nuclear reactors at taxpayers expense (who else?), CA is closing its only two reactors at users expense (who else?), there is no evidence that nukes are economically or otherwise feasible, nuke advocates deny the first themodynamics' law at own risk, the universe won't, never will...

Barry R. Guthrie

These are the new reactor technology that the US government is offering to Iran and North Korea to improve their nuclear energy programs. The problem that I have it that they have little reason to put this state of the art reactor to power generation use, but towards high temperature nuclear enrichment for weapons production.

God save us all, as our government sees this as a viable solution.

Although it could be like the past French/Iraq program where we would also know where the reactors are so we could have Israel blow them up just before they are come online.

Andrey

Current Iranian reactor initially was a project of Siemens. US government “persuaded” Siemens that it is not in their best financial interest to build it, and Siemens backed off. It was then picked-up by Russians with well known and further escalating implications.

Bill Young

The US is not offering N. Korea or Iran anything (other than miscellaneous threats) at this time.

Under a Bush concept, low enriched fuel would be provided and the used fuel returned from 3rd world nations. This concept is under discussion and has not been reduced to policy. Under this policy fuel inventor shipped and returned would be presumably accounted and any diversion would be noticeable.

There were two reactors under construction in North Korea by the South Koreans under US sponsorship. Work on these reactors was stopped when the N. Korean enrichment program was announced. These units have now been officially abandoned.

The nuclear program in Sweden is alive and well. They have 10 reactors providing 45% on the nation's electricity. They have shut down two reactors which were close to the Danish border.

California has 4 operational nuclear reactors, as of yesterday, all were at 100% power. California imports over 20% of its electricity; it would be unwise to prematurely shut down any of their reactors.

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