University joins BRILLIANT nuclear research program

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The University of Latvia has joined up on a regional nuclear technology cooperation project acronymed BRILLIANT (Baltic Region Initiative for Long Lasting Innovative Nuclear Technologies). The joint project hopes to encourage technology development in those EU member states which are not currently pursuing an active nuclear energy program, LSM learned at the University’s Institute of Physics (IPUL) Monday.

Latvia has committed a number of structural units to the BRILLIANT initiative, of which IPUL is the most significant.  The other project partners are Poland’s Nuclear Research Center, The Royal Technology Institute of Stockholm, the Lithuanian Energy Institute, the Lithuanian Physics and Technology Center, General Electric Hitachi and the NOVA technology center of Oskarhamn in Sweden.

The project is part of the EURATOM atom-splitting programs launched under EU grants. The goal is to develop cooperation among Baltic Sea region states for research and infrastructure, to maximize Europe’s new reactor building programs’ macroeconomic effect on regional economies, and research the nuclear fuel cycle and energy use in small state electricity-producing systems. The issue has become relevant especially in light of the rapid restarting of nuclear energy development in Europe and the role of nuclear energy in Europe’s energy independence.

Decisions are being made on the building of new nuclear reactors around the Baltic Sea region. Sweden has taken some conceptual rulings on several plants, Finland is actively continuing works on several facilities already underway, Poland affirmed a strategy providing for four to six new reactors. Great Britain too has begun an energy development program that looks to build up to fifty nuclear reactors, while some eastern European countries are looking back to works halted during the nineties to relaunch their construction afresh. Latvia’s direct neighbor Belarus has begun building a nuclear reactor plant in Astravets, Grodnya district, near the Neris River.

The construction and servicing of the nuclear energy sector is an important new job source for the whole region, given the high-wage and value-added nature of the work compared with traditional construction work or metallurgical processing.

For the states of the region to be able to offer the rest of Europe and the world something for this sector, it is essential to have strong local nuclear research organizations to ensure the necessary competence, knowledge and skills.

BRILLIANT in Latvia will be headed by the University’s atomic fission program coordinator Dr. Agris Auce, with assistance by IPUL head Dr. J. Freibergs and various senior researchers.

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