The goal of sustainability is common to all low-carbon energy sources. Sustainable nuclear energy systems, also denoted as Generation IV (GenIV) reactors, such as fast neutron reactors with closed fuel cycle, have the potential to substantially increase the energy output from the fuel, while improving the management of high level radioactive waste through transmutation processes. They are therefore potentially able to provide energy for the next centuries using in an optimal manner the already known uranium resources, while minimizing the impact on the environment and providing guarantees of safety, security and efficiency. These reactors can be built provided that materials capable of withstanding extreme conditions like high temperature, prolonged irradiation, and chemically aggressive environments, are selected or developed and properly qualified. Some of these conditions are common to other high energy efficiency systems. Because of this pivotal importance of materials in view of sustainable nuclear energy, and innovation in the energy field in general, a Joint Programme for Nuclear Materials finds its natural place within EERA.
Officially launched in November 2010, the objective of the EERA JP for Nuclear Materials is to converge towards truly integrated research activities at European level, based on the joint identification of key priority materials research topics, in support of the development and optimisation of sustainable nuclear energy systems, by building an effective collaborative framework that ensures the coordinated and optimized use of available resources and expertise all over Europe, while of course obtaining adequate funding.
The Joint Programme for Nuclear Materials (JPNM) has organized its work within 6 subprogrammes:
- SP1: Materials for ESNII (European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative) demonstrators and prototypes
- SP2: Innovative high temperature resistant steels
- SP3: Refractory materials: ceramic composites, cermets and metal-based alloys
- SP4: Physical modelling and modelling-oriented experiments for structural materials
- SP5: Synthesis, irradiation and qualification of advanced fuels
- SP6: Physical modelling and separate effect experiments for fuels