New developments and approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle were presented at the Thirteenth International Conference on WWER Fuel Performance, Modelling and Experimental Support. The event, organized by the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, in co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, was held from September 15 to 21, 2019 in Nessebar, Bulgaria and was sponsored by the Russian company TVEL and Kozloduy NPP Plc.
Issues related to the evolution of producing different generations of nuclear fuel, increase in the efficiency and safety of its operation by refining and improving its characteristics were discussed. In addition to scientific research, nuclear fuel behavior results from operational experience in nuclear power plants were provided. Highlights of the Conference were the enhancement of the environmental friendliness and cost-effectiveness of nuclear energy while maintaining its safety level in accordance with international standards.
The introduction of new, sophisticated fuel assemblies allows for reactor power increase, extension of the fuel cycle, and has a positive effect on the energy systems of nuclear-powered countries. Examples of the successful transition from one nuclear fuel supplier to another were presented, which opens the door to real competition and development in the fuel market, and has a positive impact on its quality and price. Different directions for the future development of nuclear fuel were reported at the Conference. The Russian company TVEL presented accident tolerant nuclear fuel, which is in the process of testing.
Topics related to modeling and experimental support, safety and quality management, WWER fuel reliability and spent nuclear fuel management were also discussed.
More than 120 scientists and experts from Bulgaria, Russia, Armenia, Argentina, Ukraine, Taiwan, Germany, USA, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, India, South Korea and others participated in the Conference. These included representatives of scientific institutes, nuclear power operators, nuclear companies, including nuclear fuel manufacturers, regulators and international organizations responsible for the development and safety of nuclear technologies and facilities. Their main message was that, although WWER is a technology of the 20th century, nuclear fuel experts will also be needed in the 21st century, as the life span of modern rectors reaches 100 years.