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Is computed tomography best for breast?

Breast-CT is aimed at improving diagnostic performance in breast cancer screening. It is conducting a comparative study to analyse the performance of a dedicated CT scanner for breast imaging in terms of image quality and its efficient use of ionising radiation.

Practical issues, costs, and the potential relevance for European manufacturers will be considered as well. It is thought that CT scans may allow radiologists to routinely detect breast tumours. The earlier and smaller a tumour is detectable, the lower the risk of it spreading to other organs and tissues - and the greater the chance of establishing a permanent cure

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Separating radioactive waste more effectively

EUROPART has investigated ways of separating highly radioactive products from the active waste left behind after spent nuclear fuel has been reprocessed.

This elimination would dramatically decrease the long-term radiotoxicity of nuclear waste and so help to simplify the complex process of nuclear waste management. Training and educating the young researchers participating in EUROPART also formed an important part of the project. Maintaining and improving the skills base for nuclear technologies in Europe is vital for the future.

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Underground waste disposal

The European Integrated Project ESDRED (Engineering Studies and Demonstrations of Repository Designs) is contributing to the development of a common European view of the main issues related to the management and disposal of radioactive waste, in particular regarding crucial engineering and waste emplacement processes and machinery. Representing nine European countries, ESDRED has helped establish technically sound ways of disposing of spent fuel and other high-level and long-lived radioactive waste deep underground.

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Less waste, better use of resources

Fast neutron reactors can produce 50-100 times more energy from a given quantity of uranium than present light-water-cooled thermal reactors. CP-ESFR is investigating the design of a new sodium fast reactor - probably the most promising concept among the so-called 'Generation-IV' technologies. Its fuel can even contain isotopes that now form part of the radioactive waste from thermal reactors, thereby significantly reducing the long-term disposal problem and making nuclear energy even more sustainable.

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Zero tolerance to accidents

SARNET-2 continues an on-going EU effort to increase safety in present and future nuclear plants. Despite in-depth defence strategies, there is the remote possibility that a severe accident could allow radioactive material to escape into the environment. The partners will form a virtual centre of excellence coordinating national resources, know-how and expertise. This will carry out commonly agreed research programmes to produce risk assessment tools capable of resolving any remaining issues.

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Foresight for safety

The Integrated Project NURESIM was the initial step towards a common standard EU software environment for modelling and recording data on current and future nuclear reactors. Its main achievement was the integration of several physics-related modules into a unified platform. By allowing accurate prediction of the relevant phenomena, this will bring significant competitive advantage to the European nuclear industry, and help to reassure the general public regarding the safe operation of nuclear plants.

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Standards under scrutiny

Whereas today's estimates of the health risk associated with exposure to nuclear radiation are based largely on studies of populations subject to acute dosage over relatively short periods, SOUL is examining the effects of longer-term low dosage rates. Most people receive some radiation during their lifetimes - from natural phenomena, medical interventions or in the workplace. The project will provide new evidence to determine whether current practices and standards should be modified.

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