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News Alert

Brussels, 14 July 2008

New modelling makes nuclear power plants safer
Euratom project PERFECT lays basis for long-term projections

The results of the Euratom project PERFECT (Prediction of Irradiation Damage Effects in Reactor Components) can make nuclear power plants safer and extend their lifetime. It lays the basis for long-term projections of Nuclear Power Plant life management. The research consortium under the lead of Electricité de France presented their results after the end of the project in July. It comprises the expertise of 12 nuclear-research organisations, involving the capacities of 16 universities and research centres from across Europe. They were financed during four-and-a-half years with EUR 18 418 000, of which the European Commission contributed EUR 7.5 million.

The researchers addressed the irradiation damage in Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessels materials and components by multi-scale modelling. These tools are capable to simulate the effects of neutron irradiation on the mechanical, fracture and corrosion properties of the Reactor Pressure Vessels and internal structures in the widely used Light Water Reactors.

The aim is to reduce the need for dedicated irradiation campaigns and address most of the irradiated material-related issues. Therefore the results of the project can be used to predict long-term projections for Nuclear Power Plant life management and help the understanding of the phenomena leading to degradations in order to design experimental programmes. At the same time the models contribute to explore conditions outside existing experimental databases.

The results can help to evaluate the individual or combined influence of material and service conditions that may exceed the capacity of any experimental programme. Furthermore they will allow optimising the design and interpretation of irradiation surveillance programmes and help to verify the consistency of existing databases.

PERFECT addresses both the microscopic effects of irradiation, which are manifested by changes in the microstructure and basic properties of the materials, as well as the macroscopic effects, which influence the behaviour of reactor components - in particular fracture toughness for Pressure Vessel steels, and irradiation hardening and stress corrosion cracking sensitivity for Internal Structures.

The models are based on the physics and mechanics at a scale where they can be described with well-defined parameters and concepts. To make the future industrial exploitation of these multi-scale models possible, an integration process was undertaken. The partners developed basic prototypes that will allow future improvements.

The cooperation within the project led to the integration of the fragmented research and experience that currently exist within Europe in the field of numerical simulation of radiation damage. The participants established also links with international organisations involved in similar projects throughout the world.

More information can be found on: www.fp6perfect.net

Spokesperson for research and science:

Catherine Ray: +32 2 298 99 21 - catherine.ray@ec.europa.eu

Further media information:

Florian Frank: +32 2 299 79 34 - florian.frank@ec.europa.eu

Michel Hugon: +32 2 296 57 19 - michel.hugon@ec.europa.eu