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plutonium management for more agility

Launched in October 2020, PuMMA is a 48 month long Horizon 2020 project funded under the Euratom research and training programme. It brings together 20 partners from 12 different countries. Coordinated by Nathalie Chauvin, international expert on fuels for adavanced reactors at the CEA, PuMMA will evaluate the impact of high Plutonium (Pu) content on the whole fuel cycle, reactor safety and performance, in order to define different options for Pu management in Generation IV nuclear reactors. This will ultimately contribute to safer, more efficient and more sustainable clean nuclear energy production.

why this project?

Developing sustainable sources for clean energy production has become a top priority as climate change becomes an increasing threat. In that context, the deployment of Generation IV nuclear reactors provides an opportunity to significantly increase the sustainability and performance of nuclear energy by enabling the recycling of used fuels and boosting fuel performance.

All European nuclear reactors consume natural uranium (U) and produce plutonium (Pu), which can be recycled into MOX fuels to maximise its energetic potential, reducing the use of natural resources and the radiotoxicity of waste. The recycling of Pu multiple times translates into an increase in Pu content in the fuel, limiting the Pu recycling ability of Generation II and III reactors whose fuel composition cannot exceed a relatively low Pu content limit.

However, Generation IV reactors can support large quantities of Pu and recycle it many times, offering the ability to efficiently manage Pu, close the fuel cycle, and increase the sustainability of nuclear energy. In order to achieve this, studying each step of the fuel cycle when using fuels containing a high percentage of Pu and its impact on nuclear facilities is required.

The PuMMA project aims to define different options for Pu management in Generation IV nuclear reactors and to evaluate the impact of high Pu content on the whole fuel cycle, reactor safety and performance. More broadly, the goal of PuMMA is to conduct research that significantly improves fuel cycle knowledge. This will facilitate Generation IV reactor licensing, enable stakeholders to make informed decisions when choosing fuel cycle strategies, and place the EU at the forefront of Generation IV safety standards development while boosting EU technological and industrial competitiveness.