Current and future impacts of SMR/AMR projects on Safeguards in France

Guillaume GENESIO - Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN)
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There is a worldwide interest in small modular reactors (SMRs) including microreactors and advanced modular reactor (AMR). Indeed, the last IAEA booklet on the status of SMR technology developments selected more than 80 SMR designs and concepts under various stages of development, in 18 countries [1]. This emulation of projects is also taking place in France, and particularly recently with a strong financial support of French government for SMR projects (France relance and France 2030 programmes). Thus, in France, more or less mature projects are materializing. These projects are supported by the well-known French nuclear industrials (EDF CEA, Naval Groupe, Technicatome and Tractabel have launched the Nuward SMR project, a PWR-type SMR) but also by startups (Naarea with a MSR-type and Jimmy Energy with a HTGR-type SMR), which is new in France. Some of these projects involve international cooperation (with the establishment of an international advisory board, or/and involving transnational startups such as Newcleo (France, United-Kingdom, and Italy), Transmutex (France and Switzerland). These projects also need R&D support for these concepts and technologies, particularly for AMRs whose technologies are disruptive. Therefore, several French actors are involved in different R&D programmes related to SMRs, mainly funded by the Euratom research and training programme which have already an impact on safeguards such as Additional Protocol (AP). This paper presents an overview of national and transnational SMR/AMR projects in France, with a particular focus on the most advanced projects and their impact on the safeguards in France (currently mainly AP). Furthermore, the impact of future evolution of fuel cycle facilities on safeguards will be discussed due to a front-end requirements like fuel supply adaptations (Tri-Structural Isotropic (TRISO) fuel fabrication, higher uranium enrichment with High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel…) to support the SMR projects (and meet national markets but also international ones).