Sylvia Choithramani, Spanish Young Generation Chair
Kim Dahlbacka, ENS Young Generation Chair

From 22-26 October 2006, 340 specialists met in Salamanca (Spain) to discuss the challenges facing the developers and manufacturers of high-performance nuclear fuels. The primary objective is to bring together leading specialists in the field from around the world to analyse advances in nuclear fuel management technology and to use the findings of the latest cutting-edge research to help manufacturing the high performance nuclear fuels of today and tomorrow. TOPFUEL is a topical meeting organised by European Nuclear Society (ENS), American Nuclear Society (ANS) and the Atomic Energy Society of Japan and also aims at enhancing networking between the continents. The conference is held annually on a tri-annual rotational basis in Europe, USA, and Asia.

TOPFUEL Conference participants

Andreas Huttman started the conference one day earlier than most of the participants by participating in the golf tournament. The conference is a good mixture of suppliers and utilities and Andreas says we should carefully look at new things for the future. The conference in Salamanca has been very well organised and the conference venue great, and not to forget, the beautiful golf course! Andreas was a bit surprised

how few utility people from Germany attended the conference and said by attending the conference, you have a chance to actually meet and talk with the person presenting the paper and establish your own network.

Altogether 60 papers were presented and the paper presentations run in two parallel session and this made it sometimes difficult for the participants to choose which session to attend as the level of papers were very good. One of the most active participants at the conference was definitely Russel Stachowski (GNF, Wilmington (USA)), who provided the conference with a lot of youthful enthusiasm and energy, presenting two


papers and two posters. Russel has previously been living in Europe and knew most of the participants at the conference. Some fresh faces, but not as many as it should. Russel urged nuclear professionals to come to TOPFUEL and KTG’s Jahrestagung to get exposed to the details and learn more in depth. It is the responsibility of the utilities and vendors to send young professionals to the conference, and he suggested university students to be targeted to enhance the knowledge transfer already an early stage of the career.

The poster session was well visited and very crowded throughout the whole poster session. The poster session reminded very much of the world famous

Poster Session

Sunday market in Madrid, but now instead of beating prices, technical issues were debated. Altogether 67 posters were presented and two of them were presented by Yogesh Parmar (NOK, Switzerland). Yogesh, who has been working in the industry for quite some time, said that TOPFUEL is important conference for him to maintain his network of professionals in the fuel field.

One of the Japanese participants that enjoyed networking with European colleagues was Yoshida Hiroyuki (Toshiba, Japan). Yoshida participated for the second time in TOPFUEL, the first time was at the previous conference in Kyoto (Japan) in 2005. He had noticed that TOPFUEL in Kyoto attracted a lot more universities and thereby the number of young participants was also larger. Yoshida therefore suggested that a special YG session could increase the number of young participants the next time TOFPUEL is organised in Europe.

Yannich Guerin (CEA, France) also participated at the previous conference in Kyoto and agreed that at the current conference, the university presence was not as strong as in Kyoto. Yannick is one of the organiser of Fredric Joliot and Otto Hahn Summer School ( and besides his professional interested in the conference; he was also looking for trends for the future that could be topics for the summer school. Katalina Kulacsy (KFKI, Hungary) is one of the former Summer School participants and Yannick enjoyed her poster about “the fission gas release module in the Furom Code” and he said that the conference was opportunity for young scientists, like Katalina, to get a good overview about the industry.

Some ENS members interviewed many TOPFUEL participants. Elder and younger people were asked about what they thought about the attendance of TOPFUEL. They both answered the same: not many young people, we are concerned because there are few professionals of the future involved in international congresses. The fact that there are not many youngs, makes it harder to get to know more people in

TopFuel Participants

the nuclear industry. One initiative that came up in TOPFUEL was that it would be very helpful if most of the companies, following AREVA’s or ENUSA’s example, send young professionals to these meetings. This way, they could learn much more and even more important, both the apprentice and the company could take advantage of it. This could even allow to have a special session in this type of meetings called may be “from young to young” where young people could present their own papers to young people, in a basic level, in order to get to know, for instance, the whole fuel cycle or waste management strategies in each country. This way, young professionals would be more involved in this nuclear industry, would be able to establish their own network and they could even attract young students to this field.

According to several TOPFUEL veteran-participants, the atmosphere at the conference was a lot more positive than in the past. Jose Gutierrez (General Chair for TOPFUEL-2006) and his program committee had done an excellent job and a large share of the success of the conference goes to them. Next year, TOPFUEL will take place in San Francisco, September 30 – October 3, and more information can be found on Now is up to Amir Shahkarami (General chair for TOPFUEL-2007) and his team to organize as a successful conference next year in San Francisco.