On 23th and 24th January, a joint final seminar of the Finnish nuclear safety research programmes (SAFIR2022 - nuclear power plant safety research and KYT2022 - nuclear waste management research) funded by the National Nuclear Waste Management Fund (VYR) will be held. The results and new competences obtained during the past four years will be presented and discussed. The funding of the programmes during 2019-2022 was over 50 million euros. At the beginning of the year, a new national nuclear safety research programme, SAFER2028, was launched.
Production of nuclear energy must always be safe, and the research programmes funded by VYR are important in Finland both in creating new nuclear power plant and nuclear waste management safety expertise and in developing the existing competences. The goal of the programmes is based on the Nuclear Energy Act, i.e., the authorities shall have the capacity to quickly assess the safety significance of unexpected events. The research programmes encompass multidisciplinary research needs and serve as a forum that brings together authorities, licensees, research institutions and students in the field.
The research has included topical subjects in Finland and internationally, such as the impact of a long operational life of the power plants on nuclear safety, the use of nuclear energy in a changing operating environment and the impact of extreme weather events on nuclear safety. On nuclear waste management side, the impact of microbes on the engineered barrier system, e.g., has been studied. In addition, the research programmes have developed Finnish research infrastructure: VTT Centre for Nuclear Safety and thermal hydraulic experimental laboratory at the LUT University. With up-to-date infrastructure it is possible to quickly provide answers to questions on, e.g., materials or process technology.
The internationally attractive, high-quality Finnish safety research and research infrastructure enable research with top international experts in the field and access to the latest information on current topics. The national research programmes are a precondition for this international collaboration. They make it possible for Finland to participate in international cooperation between authorities to develop a knowledge base for solving safety significant issues. The cooperation enables the validation of computational models through carrying out large-scale experiments in international experimental facilities.
While national research programmes are moving from one era to another, Finnish and European energy production is also at a turning point. The undergoing a transformation of the Finnish energy system as part of the objective for carbon neutrality by 2035 has been taken into account in the planning of the new SAFER2028 research programme. The SAFER2028 research programme will also continue the important topics of the ending KYT2022 and SAFIR2022 research programmes. Current research topics are, e.g., small modular reactors, new technologies, new manufacturing methods and virtual reality. Better utilisation of risk informed methods, understanding the operation of high-reliability organisations and human factors, and better integration of data in every day operations are essential for overall nuclear safety.
More than 250 nuclear safety experts will be present at the seminar. With their work, the safety of Finnish nuclear energy production and nuclear waste management has been achieved until now and will be achieved in the future. The contribution of the programmes is invaluable in developing legislation and regulatory guidance for future needs. The research programmes also play an important role in attracting new experts to the field in a situation where competition for talent between different fields is intensifying.
The SAFIR2022 and KYT2022 research programmes have developed know-how, experts, analytical methods and research infrastructure - all of which are needed to maintain and further improve the national capacity to assess and develop the safety of nuclear energy production and nuclear waste management.
More information on VYR funded research programmes:
- KYT2022 (Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Waste Management 2019-2022)
- SAFIR2022 (The Finnish Research Programme on Nuclear Power Plant Safety 2019-2022)
- SAFER2028 (National Nuclear Safety Research Programme 2023-2028)
Chairs of the management groups of the programmes:
- Mia Ylä-Mella (KYT2022), STUK
- Marja-Leena Järvinen (SAFIR2022), STUK
- Tomi Routamo (SAFER2028), STUK
- Suvi Karvonen (KYT2022, SAFER2028), VTT
- Jari Hämäläinen (SAFIR2022), VTT