NUGENIA is an international non-profit organisation set up under Belgian law to promote R&D on Gen II & III nuclear reactors. The organisation was formally established in November 2011 and is one of the three pillars of the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP). Its over 100 member organisations include nuclear power plant (NPP) operators, nuclear reactor vendors, research institutes, technical support organisations (TSOs) and nuclear consulting companies. NUGENIA combines the activities of the following four networks / working groups:
- SNETP Technical Working Group on Gen II & III reactors;
- Network on nuclear plant life management NULIFE;
- Network on severe nuclear accidents SARNET; and
- the European Network for Inspection and Qualification (ENIQ).
Each of these groups brought its own specific expertise and experience, contributing to NUGENIA’s overarching aim of enhancing the safety, reliability and competitiveness of Gen II and III NPPs. To facilitate its work towards this goal, NUGENIA has defined a clear technical structure for Gen II and III research, with research activity organised into eight Technical Areas (TA):
- Plant safety and risk assessment;
- Severe accidents;
- Improved reactor operation;
- Integrity assessment and ageing of systems, structures and components;
- Fuel development, waste and spent fuel management and decommissioning;
- Innovative light water reactor (LWR) design & technology;
- Harmonisation; and
- In-service inspection and non-destructive examination.
The selected research areas are based on priorities identified in the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform’s Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA)1 and NUGENIA Roadmap. These priorities have been fine-tuned within NUGENIA to reflect the relevance of each topic with respect to the challenges for safe and reliable operation of Gen II and III nuclear plants. Each technical area has identified its own set of technical challenges that need to be addressed. This has contributed to the elaboration of a number of cross-cutting high-level objectives which will, in turn, facilitate the long-term operation of Gen II & III plants.
The high-level objectives include improving operational and design safety at existing plants based on lessons learned. Another objective is to assess the performance of NPPs for long-term operation with a special focus on ageing management and improving the resilience of systems, structures and components (SSCs) against degradation mechanisms, including mitigation of their effects, as well as their capacity to mitigate severe accidents.
These goals will be underpinned by research in other areas like the development of new materials and processes to achieve better fuel reliability, and experimental studies to better understand and predict degradation mechanisms of nuclear reactor components. Other research will involve development and qualification of in-service inspection methods and development of approaches for risk assessment. Finally, research will be conducted to improve the modelling of degradation phenomena in NPPs with a view to reducing uncertainties in models and to develop the computational tools required for advanced prediction of phenomena.
Research must also address the efficient integration of NPPs into the energy mix, with a particular focus on combinations of different electricity sources that may modify the operation of existing NPPs and the development of small modular reactors (SMRs). Finally, to avoid technology obsolescence, new technologies, e.g. digital control systems and monitoring systems for safety relevant NPP components, etc., are deployed via modernisation (and power uprate) programs at existing NPPs, where applicable.
The Joint Research Centre plays an active role in most of the NUGENIA Technical Areas, especially TA1, TA2, TA4, TA5, TA6 and TA7, and and contributes to the NUGENIA Secretariat. In terms of direct support to NUGENIA projects the organisation has been, and is currently, involved in a large number of NUGENIA projects, a few of which are highlighted below:
The JRC has contributed to the NUGENIA Roadmap and the individual, more in-depth roadmaps of the NUGENIA technical areas. These documents summarize and describe the technical challenges facing the NUGENIA members in terms of safe operation of NPPs and the R&D needed to tackle these challenges. It is also a contributor to NUGENIA position papers on dedicated technical topics.
As one of the key pillars of the NUGENIA association, the SARNET network (Technical Area 2 of NUGENIA) supports improving knowledge on severe accidents in order to reduce uncertainties on pending issues, thereby enhancing plant safety. The network also improves coordination of research resources and expertise available in Europe in the severe accident area and ensures preservation of research data and dissemination of knowledge. The JRC has been directly involved in this network since its creation in 2004 and has also been an active participant in several ongoing complementary projects, like CESAM3 (Code for European Severe Accident Management). These projects have a particular focus on key issues identified during the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011.
With the set-up of the Nuclear Reactor Accident Analysis and Modelling (NURAM) group focusing on severe accident modelling and analyses for NPPs in 2012, the JRC further reinforced its contribution to Europe's post-Fukushima nuclear safety efforts. The outcome will set the technical foundations for the review of EU legislation on nuclear safety and directly supports NUGENIA activities in the area of severe accidents.
The JRC also maintains the STRESA database and web portal, which stores experimental data recorded in Integral Effect Test Facilities (ITFs) in the field of severe accident and thermohydraulics. Similarly, it has several running projects to consolidate nuclear knowledge as the first step in a wider nuclear knowledge preservation and consolidation activity aimed at knowledge management, training and education in reactor design and operation, and operates the ODIN database4, in which, for instance, experimental data resulting from projects on nuclear reactor materials is stored.
The JRC is significantly involved in the FP7 project MULTIMETAL5, which aims to develop a standard for fracture resistance testing of multi-metal specimens, along with the development of harmonized procedures for dissimilar metal welds brittle and ductile integrity assessment. The organisation has also been involved in the recently finalised FP7 projects LONGLIFE6 (study on the long-term irradiation embrittlement effects of reactor pressure vessels) and STYLE (project on the development of integrity assessment procedures for primary piping systems of light water reactors).
The NUGENIA Association is also supported in its activities by the FP7 project NUGENIA+, which aims to prioritise the research needs of the individual technical areas and to link the research projects of NUGENIA to corresponding national research programs and programs of other European and international nuclear networks / organisations. The Joint Research Centre is a member of the NUGENIA+ consortium and leads WP4 “Interactions and Dissemination”. NUGENIA+ also plays a key role in implementing the administrative and strategic structuring of NUGENIA to prepare the association for Horizon2020 and beyond.
For more information: