Research Reactor Fuel Management, RRFM 2004

This year’s Topical Meeting notches up another success

Attracting 174 participants from all over the world, ENS’s 8th International Topical Meeting on Research Reactor Fuel Management – RRFM 2004 – held in Munich on 22-23 March 2004, was a resounding success. Pol Gubel, chairman of the RRFM Programme Committee, offers some insight into what made the conference memorable by sharing with us his impressions of its first session.

What made this year’s RRFM a very special meeting was that it was held in Munich, the city where the brand-new FRM-II reactor is now being commissioned. It was, therefore, fitting to kick off the conference with presentations on FRM-II. In the first session, one paper dealt with the reactor’s first nuclear startup, while a second focused on its utilisation.

To celebrate this important event, we continued with a series of invited papers on international topics of interest to the whole research reactor community. We heard about the status of the US policy concerning non-proliferation, conversion to LEU and the return of foreign spent fuel to America and Russia. For the first time, we learnt officially that the US Government is seriously considering an extension of its acceptance policy beyond the period 2006-2009. Three facts triggered the US Administration’s change in attitude:

  • the 9-11 event;

  • the fact that only about 50% of the eligible HEU in the world will be returned back to the US within the present acceptance period; and

  • the unexpected difficulties with the development and the qualification of the new UMo fuels.

We also heard about the European initiatives to support the large nuclear facilities – e.g. research reactors, in order to contribute to the creation of a European Research Area (ERA) whose aim is increased co-operation between the EU member states. In addition, the role of present and future research reactors was clearly identified as a support to the development of innovative reactor systems: the research reactors were defined as an essential link between new concepts, new ideas and the reality.

For the full account of Pol Gubel’s RRFM 2004 round-up, please visit the ENS website:

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