Brussels, 10 Mar 2005
The UK and France are among the countries that have signed up to the world's first international agreement for research and development cooperation in advanced nuclear energy systems.
At a ceremony held in the French Embassy in Washington on 28 February, five members of the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) - the others being Canada, Japan and the US - signed a 'framework agreement on international collaboration in research and development on generation IV nuclear energy systems'. Further GIF members, which include the EU's EURATOM programme, are expected to accede to the agreement in the coming months.
The signing of the agreement is the result of an initiative launched in January 2000, when leading nuclear technology officials from across the globe met to discuss areas of shared interest in nuclear technology, and the prospects for future collaboration.
Following that meeting, more than one hundred of the world's top scientists, economists and engineers defined the technology goals for a new generation of nuclear energy systems, which offer increased safety, proliferation resistance, economic value and sustainability.
Six concepts that hold the greatest promise for the future were identified, along with the research and development (R&D) activities that would be necessary to advance them to commercial deployment. The six areas are: gas cooled fast reactor systems, lead cooled fast reactor systems, molten salt reactor systems, supercritical water cooled reactor systems and very high temperature reactor systems.
According to a statement, the GIF agreement 'represents the desire of all its members to find new and better solutions to the world's future energy and environment challenges while allowing continued economic development and growth throughout the world.'
It continues: 'Nuclear technology can play a key role in this future by providing a means of supplying people all over the world with a safe, proliferation-resistant, and economic means of producing electricity - and eventually hydrogen - without harming the environment in which we all live and breathe.'
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