PRAGUE, Czech Republic — The U.S. Department of Energy recently joined with the Rež Nuclear Research Institute, the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Texas A&M and the Czech Nuclear Education Network (CENEN) to announce a series of bilateral nuclear research and development programs that will help to advance safe and secure nuclear energy technologies in both countries. These efforts, including workshops and teacher exchanges, will leverage the expertise of research institutions and universities in the United States and the Czech Republic to support the safe and secure development of nuclear energy. This expanded partnership builds on a strong history of U.S.-Czech energy collaboration and follows on President Obama’s speech in Prague in April 2009, where he laid out his vision for the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy around the world.
The announcement was made at the American Center by Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman, U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen, and Mr. Miroslav Horak, the Executive Director of the Rež Nuclear Research Institute.
"The U.S. is committed to working closely with the Czech Republic to advance our shared energy goals and to support the development of safe and secure nuclear energy resources," said Deputy Secretary Poneman. "These projects will strengthen cooperation between our universities and national laboratories, help to inspire the next generation of nuclear engineers and scientists, and advance nuclear energy technologies that can lead to economic growth and job creation in both our countries."
According to Ambassador Eisen, "Our cooperation in the civil-nuclear field is a state of the art partnership for the 21st century, one that brings together cutting-edge scientific cooperation as well as creates jobs in both the United States and the Czech Republic."
"The Czech Republic has a long standing history of research and development in this field and we are looking forward to sharing this experience with our scientific partners in the United States. Nuclear energy will be a part of our energy future and the common research projects outlined today will contribute to making sure that technological challenges associated with safe and secure nuclear energy are met," stated Tomas Huner, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.
This research and development (R&D) collaboration builds on the Joint Declaration on Civil Nuclear Power that was signed by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Czech Republic Minister of Industry and Trade Martin Kocourek in December 2010, which expressed the commitment of both nations to cooperate on current and future civil nuclear projects and encouraged scientific and research cooperation.
These projects will further strengthen commercial ties between companies in both countries and will provide new opportunities for cooperative R&D efforts.
The collaboration focuses on five principal areas:
- Molten Salt Reactor Coolant Salt Reactivity Experiments: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will ship coolant salt currently stored at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to the Rež Nuclear Research Institute. Czech researchers will use the Institute’s critical test facility for salt reactors to test the coolant salt by combining it with nuclear fuel. The results, which will help to advance the research on molten salt reactors, will be shared between U.S. and Czech researchers. The Czech Republic will dispose of the coolant salt waste after the experiments.
- Research with Texas A&M and Czech Universities: Texas A&M University will collaborate with several Czech universities, including Brno University of Technology, the Czech Technical University, and the University of West Bohemia to research ways of improving the efficiency of reactor core analyses and identify additional ways to continue improving the safety of nuclear materials and technologies. The projects will involve various evaluation, modeling, simulation, experiments, and data collection components.
- Fluoride Volatility Research: DOE will work with Czech nuclear experts to share information on fluoride volatility methods and how they can be employed to treat used nuclear fuel. This will include a bilateral workshop conducted in Prague later this year with scientists and engineers from both countries. During the workshop, participants will review current R&D efforts underway and will work to identify common research objectives and opportunities for additional collaboration.
- Nuclear Safety Research: The Department of Energy will join with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and State Agency for Nuclear Safety (SUJB) to conduct a regional nuclear safety workshop in October. The Central Europe Workshop on Trends in Nuclear Power Plant Safety for Robust Civil Nuclear Programs will provide countries the opportunity to share technical information and best practices on ways to strengthen nuclear safety. This includes discussions of nuclear safety management practices; safety assessments and verification; accident management; and emergency preparedness and public communication.
- High School Science Teacher Exchanges: The United States and the Czech Republic will also be launching an exchange program for high school science teachers, which will be administered and funded by the state of Texas through the Nuclear Power Institute and the Center for Large Scale Scientific Simulation. During the spring of 2012, two Texas high school science teachers will visit the Czech Republic for a week, and two Czech high school teachers will visit Texas for a week to learn from one another. The program will facilitate the continued collaboration between teachers and academics in both countries and will help encourage students to enter nuclear energy fields.