Focusing on the future: Active for tomorrow – already today
Our present successes are a commitment for AREVA to work on the challenges of tomorrow. To achieve this, we are intensively working on the “reactors of the future” – new, that is fourth-generation, reactor lines. Therefore, we are involved, for example, in research and developing activities in the context of the Generation IV International Forum. The fast breeder reactor and the high-temperature reactor are two selected future reactor concepts.
Goal of the forum: to specify future generation IV reactors in line with sustainability criteria – such as safety, competitiveness, reduced waste –, and to develop such reactors.
Twelve nations and the European Union (EU) are represented in this forum: Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, South Korea, USA, France (via the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives, CEA), Japan, Great Britain and Switzerland. China and Russia joined in late 2006.
The “reactors of the future” will be based on new approaches and innovations. They are currently still in the design phase. But they are set to be ready for operation between 2030 and 2035.
Two types of reactors are in our focus
- Sodium-cooled fast breeder
The French government has opted for the sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor (SFR). Owing to the programs Phénix and Superphénix we were able to acquire knowledge in this field. Sodium as cooling agent is now being investigated in depth to bring the technology to market. AREVA is conducting a joint research and development venture with the French Atomic Energy Agency (CEA) and the electricity utility Électricité de France. The joint venture aims to work out proposals for the basic concept of a future generation of fast breeders. A pilot project could be implemented by 2025.
- Very high temperature reactor
The very high temperatures this reactor delivers enable applications such as process heat and hydrogen on an industrial scale – an interesting option, in particular for traffic applications. We are expediting our research and development efforts for a very high temperature reactor (VHTR). This goal in mind, we participated in the call for bids of the US Department of Energy (DOE) on concept studies for a prototype nuclear power plant of the next generation (NGNP). This prototype would be designed for the generation of electricity and heat for industrial processes.
CEA and AREVA develop the nuclear fuel for this reactor type.
ANTARES: the AREVA HTR/VHTR design
Within the scope of the ANTARES program, AREVA develops high-temperature reactors and very-high-temperature reactors. In addition to electric current, these reactors provide steam for industrial applications. Our concept is based on proven technologies allowing us to minimize risks and achieve optimum operating performance.