The FRACTESUS project will demonstrate the reliability and the enhanced confidence of using small size specimens to measure the fracture resistance of structural (particularly nuclear) materials, providing an innovative method to characterize high-performance materials against critical situations (structural failures). This will allow the European nuclear industry to operate in safer and more efficient conditions, especially in the case of operating Gen II reactors (concerning Long Term Operation (LTO) issues) and future GEN III reactors (at both design and operation stages). Moreover, once demonstrated, the regulatory and standardization bodies will also be able to incorporate this innovation to nuclear regulations, standards and procedures.
The economic impact on the existing European Nuclear Power Plants fleet is evident, as it not only reduces the cost of material characterization in LTO programmes, but it also prevents unexpected situations dealing with structural failures and operational shutdowns.
Moreover, the impact of FRACTESUS is not limited to GEN II and GEN III reactors: GEN IV reactors and nuclear fusion reactors also deal with highly demanding material characterisation and structural integrity programmes, with analogous limitations in terms of material availability as those found in current NPP’s. The knowledge developed within FRACTESUS project will be easily applicable to these novel installations.