The Fukushima Daiichi event in 2011 has demonstrated the need for improved nuclear energy safety, which can be ensured by the development of accident-tolerant fuels (ATFs). ATFs are expected to overcome the inherent technical shortcomings of the standard zircaloy/UO2 fuels, thus relieving the industry from the huge financial penalty associated with beyond-design-basis accidents leading to fuel cladding material failure and release of radioactive fission products to the power plant containment and the environment.
The main objective of the IL TROVATORE project is to identify and optimise some of the most promising ATF cladding material concepts for Gen-II/III light water reactors (LWRs) before validating them in an industrially-relevant environment, i.e., under neutron irradiation in PWR-like water. The innovative ATF cladding material concepts proposed in IL TROVATORE are expected to demonstrate significant improvement in performance compared to the current fuel cladding materials, thus helping to take an important step towards an improved nuclear energy safety worldwide. The development of ATF clads will eliminate redundant safety systems, improving the market profile of current reactor designs, and the overall envisaged innovation will strengthen the competitiveness of European industries in both nuclear and non‐nuclear sectors.
To achieve its ambitious objectives, IL TROVATORE relies on academic excellence and industrial support, while also involving standardisation bodies and nuclear safety regulatory authorities to accelerate the transfer of key innovation to market. IL TROVATORE is designed to help addressing the dire global societal and industrial demand for safer nuclear energy, hence it relies on an international collaboration between Europe, the USA and Japan.