News and press releases
Many countries expect Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to play their part in helping them become less dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation. However, most SMR concepts are still at different stages of development. While safety aspects already play a role from the first sketches of ideas, security measures (required protection against malicious acts) are often only given a secondary role. Therefore, in a research project that has just started, GRS is dealing with the characteristics of physical protection and computer security of different SMR concepts and to what extent security requirements and concepts of conventional nuclear facilities can be applied to SMRs. In this way, GRS wants to build up expertise and identify open questions in the application of existing rules and regulations.
In Western Europe, heat and drought have had a firm grip on us for months now: we keep reading about forest fires, dried-up rivers and even problems with the supply of drinking water – phenomena that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change in the future and will not even stop at water-rich countries like Germany. Last week, for example, the Berlin Senate called on citizens to save water because of increasing drought. In the joint project go-CAM, a tool was developed with participation of a GRS research team that enables decision-makers in authorities and companies to define criteria for sustainable drinking water management.
As at 15 August 2022, 27 reactors in France are connected to the grid, 22 of which are operating at full capacity. That is less than half of the 56 reactor units that could be operated in our neighbouring country.
In connection with the current global warming, periods of heat and drought are also occurring more frequently in Europe, which has an impact, among other things, on water availability and temperature. This, in turn, also has an impact on the operation of nuclear power plants: Nuclear reactors in Belgium, France and Switzerland have already had to reduce their output this summer. In Germany, too, reactors have been running at reduced capacity due to heat in recent years. But why is that so? How do heat and drought affect operation? And are these effects relevant from a safety point of view?
On 4 August 2020, a devastating explosion occurred in the port of Beirut, the cause of which was the improper storage of chemicals. After Germany had already supported Lebanon in the management of chemicals in the aftermath of this explosion, the Lebanese authorities approached Germany with an additional request for support in the retrieval and safe storage of radioactive waste. Within the framework of a cooperation project funded by the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV), the responsible Lebanese authorities are supported by experts from the BMUV and an interdisciplinary GRS team from the departments Radiation Protection and Security.
As of today (20 January 2022), the operator EDF has taken five of its reactor units off the grid due to cracks in the weld seams in the safety injection systems. According to statements by the French expert organisation IRSN, it cannot be ruled out at present that these crack indications are a generic problem that could also affect other plants. The following article provides an overview of the current state of knowledge. It is based on information from the French supervisory authority ASN, the operator EDF, and our French partner IRSN, with whom we maintain a close technical exchange via the European network ETSON.
36 years after the nuclear accident at Chernobyl
Once again, 11 March marks the anniversary of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Several thousand workers are still doing their jobs on the plant site every month - primarily to prepare the dismantling of the destroyed reactors. On the occasion of the anniversary, we look back on the main events and developments of the past year in this article.
When it comes to further developments in nuclear engineering and new reactor concepts, the abbreviation SMR appears again and again. This article explains what is behind the term, gives an overview of some of the best-known concepts, and outlines the work of GRS on this topic.
On 10 February 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron explained to the public how he envisages France's energy supply for the next decades. In addition to large-scale new construction projects for offshore wind farms, the expansion of nuclear power in particular is intended to cover the electricity demand that will arise by 2050: Six new types of EPR2 reactors are to be built, and the construction of eight more is to be examined. In addition, the development of a so-called Small Modular Reactor and the long-term operation of older nuclear power plants are planned. What the new reactor types and long-term operation mean from a technical (safety) perspective is outlined below.