"NUCLEAR FUEL: Addressing the future"

TopFuel 2006: European Nuclear Society (ENS) puts international spotlight on nuclear fuel management

From 22-26 October, 340 researchers, nuclear engineers and scientists from across Europe and beyond congregated in the ancient university city of Salamanca, Spain, to discuss the challenges facing the developers and manufacturers of new high-performance nuclear fuels – fuels that will help meet current and future energy demand and reduce man’s over dependence upon CO2-emitting fossil fuels.


TopFuel is an annual topical meeting organised by ENS, the American Nuclear Society and the Atomic Energy Society of Japan. This year it was co-sponsored by the IAEA, the OECD/NEA and the Spanish Nuclear Society (SNE). TopFuel’s primary objective was to bring together leading specialists in the field from around the world to analyse advances in nuclear fuel management technology and to use the findings of the latest cutting-edge research to help manufacture the high performance nuclear fuels of today and tomorrow.

The TopFuel 2006 agenda revolved around ten technical sessions dedicated to priority issues such as security of supply, new fuel and reactor core designs, fuel cycle strategies and spent fuel management. Among the many topics under discussion were new developments in fuel performance modelling, advanced fuel assembly design and the improved conditioning and processing of spent fuel. During the week, a poster exhibition also gave delegates the opportunity to display and discuss the results of their latest work and to network with fellow professionals.

One important statement to emerge from TopFuel 2006 was that the world has enough reserves of uranium to support the large-scale and long-term production of nuclear energy. The OECD/NEA and the IAEA recently published a report entitled Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand (the Red Book). The report, which makes a comprehensive assessment of uranium supplies and projected demand up until the year 2025, concludes by saying “…the uranium resource base is adequate to meet projected future requirements.”

With the global nuclear revival gathering momentum, this event – which registered a record attendance for an ENS conference - provided a unique opportunity for professionals in the nuclear fuel industry to discuss the key issues of the day, to exchange experiences, to consolidate recent engineering and technological advances and to focus on the future.

Commenting on the tangible sense of purpose and focus shown by delegates, José Gutierrez, Nuclear Fuel Director at ENUSA Industrias Avanzadas and Chairman of the TopFuel 2006 Conference, said: “The ultimate goal for specialists involved in all phases and aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle is to develop the next generation of nuclear fuels that will help ensure security of energy supply and, help combat climate change combined with the highest standards of safety. The record attendance at TopFuel this year shows how the nuclear industry and research community is results-driven, single-mindedly focused on achieving its goals and on the right track to deliver.”

After the conference, delegates visited the nuclear fuel manufactory facility of ENUSA Industrias Avanzadas, in Juzbado, close to Salamanca.

TopFuel is a must for nuclear fuel and spent fuel managers, fuel manufacturers, engineers and designers, nuclear power plant operators, materials scientists and research experts from all sectors of the nuclear industry. Most of the world’s major utilities were represented in Salamanca, as well as fuel manufacturers, several national nuclear organisations and research centres of excellence.