European lead fast reactor - ELSY

Alessandro Alemberti, Johan Carlsson, Edouard Malambu, Alfredo Orden, Dankward Struwe, Pietro Agostini, Stefano Monti

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The conceptual design of the European Lead Fast Reactor is being developed starting from September 2006, in the frame of the EU-FP6-ELSY project. The ELSY (European Lead-cooled System) reference design is a 600 MWe pool-type reactor cooled by pure lead. The ELSY project demonstrates the possibility of designing a competitive and safe fast critical reactor using simple engineered technical features, while fully complying with the Generation IV goal of sustainability and minor actinide (MA) burning capability. Sustainability was a leading criterion for option selection for core design, focusing on the demonstration of the potential to be self sustaining in plutonium and to burn its own generated MAs. To this end, different core configurations have been studied. Economics was a leading criterion for primary system design and plant layout. The use of a compact and simple primary circuit with the additional objective that all internal components be removable, are among the reactor features intended to assure competitive electric energy generation and long-term investment protection. Low capital cost and construction time are pursued through simplicity and compactness of the reactor building (reduced footprint and height). The reduced plant footprint is one of the benefits coming from the elimination of the Intermediate Cooling System, the low reactor building height is the result of the design approach which foresees the adoption of short-height components and two innovative Decay Heat Removal (DHR) systems. Among the critical issues, the impact of the large mass of lead has been carefully analyzed; it has been demonstrated that the high density of lead can be mitigated by compact solutions and adoption of seismic isolators. Safety has been one of the major focuses all over the ELSY development. In addition to the inherent safety advantages of lead coolant (high boiling point and no exothermic reactions with air or water) a high safety grade of the overall system has been reached. In fact the overall primary system has been conceived in order to minimize pressure drops and, as a consequence, to allow decay heat removal by natural circulation. Moreover two redundant, diverse and passive operated DHR systems have been developed and adopted. The paper presents the overall work performed so far. © 2011 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3470 - 3480
Number of pages11
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

Alemberti, A., Carlsson, J., Malambu, E., Orden, A., Struwe, D., Agostini, P., & Monti, S. (2011). European lead fast reactor - ELSY. Nuclear Engineering and Design, 241(9), 3470 - 3480.