After several years of hard work, the EERA Joint Programme on Nuclear Materials has published its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)!
Nuclear energy is currently the largest source of low-carbon electricity in the EU. The 2-degree IEA scenario concludes that worldwide nuclear energy production should increase from 11% in 2015 to 15-16% in 2050/2060. Thus, nuclear energy plays an important societal role, together with renewables, in the energy transition. Yet, three main open issues remain:
The sustainability of nuclear energy will be ensured by deploying Generation IV systems. These can produce more fuel than they consume, offer higher efficiency and increased standards of passive safety than current reactors and significantly reduce the volume and radiotoxicity of nuclear waste. However, materials will be exposed to high levels of temperature and irradiation, with some in contact with potentially aggressive non-aqueous coolants. Thus, the development, screening and qualification of suitably performing and affordable materials are crucial to make GenIV reactors an industrial and commercial reality.
This Strategic Research Agenda, entitled ‘Materials for Sustainable Nuclear Energy’, has been prepared by the EERA JP Nuclear Materials, based on a wide consultation with the scientific and industrial community involved. It identifies the research lines to be pursued in the EU to ensure that suitable structural and fuel materials are available for the design, licensing, construction and safe long-term operation of GenIV nuclear systems.