TopFUEL Santander 2021. The flexibility congress

In the TopFUEL international conference the works that reflect the state of the art of different aspects of nuclear fuel for commercial light water reactors are presented annually: new designs and materials, manufacturing, modeling, behavior in normal and transitory operation and fuel management spent.

Co-organized by the different Nuclear Societies and by a company from the sector, the meeting has a tradition of more than 25 years and it rotates annually through the geographic areas of the Far East (China, Korea, Japan), Europe and the United States.

The only time the conference was held in Spain was fifteen years ago, in 2006, in the city of Salamanca. For this reason, the SNE, with the collaboration of ENUSA, proposed to the European Nuclear Society, ENS, that the 2021 congress was held in Spain once again and, specifically, in the city of Santander.

Closing Session.

Among the candidatures presented as the venue for the 2021 meeting, the ENS finally chose the Spanish candidacy considering the international prestige of our nuclear industry and, more specifically, in Europe, the existing infrastructure in the city of Santander for the celebration of this type of events and the supports received by the local and regional administrations.

With the headquartered in the Palacio de la Magdalena, the conference was held from October 24th to 28th in a hybrid format: face-to-face / remote, bringing together more than three hundred participants (180 face-to-face / 130 remotely) who attended the 160 papers presented out of six Topics: Operation and Experience, Advances in design, materials and manufacturing, Advanced Fuels (ATF), Modeling, analysis and methods, Behavior in transit, and Storage and transportation of Spent Fuel. Of these 160 presentations, 23 were made by the Spanish nuclear sector.

All the conference presentations were recorded on video and have been available to the people registered at the conference for a month after the meeting closure (virtual conference).

From the technical content, it is worth highlighting the degree of development of the advanced fuels, ATF, where it is reported the real return of the experience in irradiation in commercial reactors. The work is progressing in the modeling area where, in addition to classic models, new approaches are used as multiscale modeling and/or the use of new algorithms based on artificial intelligence.

Meeting with the industry of Cantabria.

This eminently technical content was complemented by several events on current affairs affecting the nuclear sector: the plenary session of the TopFUEL meeting where representatives of the European nuclear fuel industry (Westinghouse, Framatome, GE-Hitachi, TVEL and ENUSA) debated the future and the strategic initiatives of the sector, one exhibition on the application of the digital transformation lever by the Spanish industry (IDOM, GE-Hitachi and Tecnatom,), the presentation of the Draft of the 7th Radioactive Waste Management Plan by ENRESA, the meeting between representatives of the industry of Cantabria and the nuclear fuel sector and the technical visit by those attending the congress, to ENSA facilities.

Holding the TopFUEL conference, after the cancellation of the 2020 conference in China, has been possible thanks to the flexibility of the organizers, ENS and ENUSA as well as that from the Palacio de la Magdalena and other institutions and organizations that collaborated to adapt the conference program to the changing dictates of the pandemic. This flexibility, together with the support received from the local and regional administrations of Cantabria, has made the Top Fuel 2021 conference a complete success.

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