EFDA Newsletter (E.N.): You are an expert in the field of nuclear fission, but also chairman of EFET, which has participated in the engineering design activities for ITER. What are the main technology achievements associated with your work in nuclear fission which were of benefit for the ITER project?

A.V.: EFET was created 10 years ago and there was strong motivation from the European Commission to develop knowledge and competence in industry for fusion. Initially just a few people in industry had experience in how to build a tokamak. Now in European industry we have the competence of about 60 engineers with rather a good knowledge in fusion. In addition, EFET provided valuable contributions. The main areas of benefit to the ITER project have been in the fields of independent cost evalutation and optimization of the manufacturing process for ITER components.

E.N.: Safety measurements in nuclear fission and in fusion have to fulfill completely different demands as there is no possibility for a “melt down” in fusion. What influence do the technological achievements in fusion safety studies performed by EFET have on your projects in nuclear fission?

A.V.: Indeed there is a certain safety culture from fission reactors influencing fusion, but there is no feedback for the safety approach from a fusion reactor like ITER. Safety is a matter of cultural behavior and also a matter of methodology. In the fission domain we are used to this approach and to these methodologies. As all four countries proposing an ITER site have nuclear fission reactors the licensing procedure for ITER will follow the approach for a fission reactor. So I think in this domain it’s quite useful that fission industry is involved, because we are used to dealing with safety authorities. In a fusion power plant you have no melt down, that’s clear, but with tritium you have slightly radioactive material that has to be considered and, in terms of methodology, both procedures are the same.

E.N.: Framatome has also offered an advanced version of the CNP-1000 reactor, which is a Pressurized Water Reactor, for the Chinese Ling Ao and Daya Bay units. As you know, China has shown great interest in the ITER project. Have you also made contact with China via EFET with regard to ITER?

A.V.: Not yet. China has joined the ITER project a few months ago. Its share of components and supply will be discussed during the ITER official negotiations. If the situation becomes clear, we propose starting the negotiations on an industrial level. But as Framatome has already built four nuclear fission reactors in China, we have already built up a very close relationship. We provided knowledge on component manufacturing and licensing. We will therefore also offer our experience in fusion to support them in the same way with ITER, of course, and transfer all necessary technology. If needed and if we win a contract to contribute to ITER construction, we would organize a partnership for the manufacturing of components in China with Chinese industry.

E.N.: 10 countries including France, Canada, Japan, the UK and the US have prepared an initiative to study systems for nuclear energy of generation IV, which could be available by 2030. Do you think there will be any consequences for the ITER project?

A.V.: Not at all. The need in terms of energy demand for the future is rather high. The only answer to this demand will be an energy mix. Our Generation IV does not represent one concept of a reactor – six concepts have been chosen to be subject to research. There could really be a breakthrough based on any of these which might allow the development of a concept using more advanced technology which does not yet exist. This situation is very similar for ITER as an experimental reactor and for the next steps. We don’t know today if the generation of fusion power plants following ITER will be competitive at that time. So let’s see and let’s keep all doors open.

Interview: D. Lutz-Lanzinger

Alain Vallée

is currently Senior Vice President, responsible for the Framatome ANP (Advanced Nuclear Power) overall R & D management and core process. He heads the Technical Center (2 sites in France, 2 in Germany) and is in charge of the implementation of the Intellectual Property Policy and also Chairman of the EFET (European Fusion Engineering and Technology) Organization.

For more information on Framatome ANP:


EFET (consortium of European companies ):

BELGATOM (Belgium)
FORTUM (Finland)
NNC (United Kingdom)

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