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News Alert

New film: Learn about nuclear fission in ten minutes

Brussels, 21 October 2009

It is now easier than ever to learn about research on nuclear fission – through a new movie released on the web by the European Commission General Directorate for Research. In ten minutes you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about nuclear fission research in the EU, including waste management, reactor systems and radiation protection. This new film is now online in English, French and German.

EU nuclear research promotes the peaceful use of the nuclear fission and aims to reassure those who are worried about nuclear energy.  The objective is to make EU nuclear energy sustainable and extremely safe, in order to attract greater involvement from industry and gain the trust of its citizens. Through the Euratom Seventh Research Framework Programme (Euratom FP7 2007-2011) the European Commission is financing this kind of research.

Climate change is at the top of the world's agenda. And it is forcing researchers and scientists to find new ways of producing energy without emitting greenhouse gases – this includes nuclear fission. One third of European electricity already comes from nuclear power plants. This is the reason why nuclear fission is one of the energy technologies on which the EU research is focusing. It is also an essential part of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET)-Plan, launched by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Parliament and the European Council, that promotes energy research all over Europe.

The latest evolution of fission technology is found in today's third generation nuclear plants, under construction in Finland and France. In addition, the Euratom research programme is studying new potential designs for an advanced fourth generation. The appeal of these 'Generation IV' reactors is that they are much more sustainable with regard to the use of uranium resources and to their ability to minimize waste production.

Radioactive waste management is one of the most challenging issues in the nuclear research and a big concern for citizens. Investigating new ways to reduce the toxicity of the radioactive waste and reducing the length of time that nuclear waste is radioactive, - the processes known as "Partitioning and Transmutation" - are of particular interest to EU research. Putting the more harmful radioactive waste in deep geological disposal sites is another challenge. The idea here is to use a "multi-barrier" approach to prevent the radioactivity from these sites from seeping into the surrounding environment.

EU research is aiming to improve the understanding of the effects of harmful radiation; another way in which it will help to protect its citizens. Radiation protection is a key element in all uses of nuclear technology, including those used for medical diagnosis and therapy. This is one of the reasons why Euratom research is working hard to find out more about the effect of low-level radiation exposure on the human body.

You will find all this, and much more, in this new film. It is a lively and informative presentation; using new and interesting graphics and including interviews with some of the leading scientists of this field.

Aurora Sanseverino, Tel: +32 2 29 85603
Florian Frank,, Tel: +32 2 29 97934

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