U.S.  LWR  Sustainability  Program
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U.S. LWR Sustainability Program. NUTHOS-7 October 5-9, 2008 Grand Intercontinental Hotel, Seoul, Korea. Ronaldo Szilard Director, INL, Nuclear Science & Engineering Director, Technical Integration Office, LWR Sustainability Program. Overview: Maintaining the Nuclear Option.

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U.S. LWR Sustainability Program

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U.S. LWR Sustainability Program


October 5-9, 2008

Grand Intercontinental Hotel, Seoul, Korea

Ronaldo SzilardDirector, INL, Nuclear Science & Engineering

Director, Technical Integration Office, LWR Sustainability Program

Overview: Maintaining the Nuclear Option

  • The U.S. Perspective

  • R&D program to meet the U.S. government & industry needs

  • Vision, Basis, Goals, Scope

  • R&D areas

  • Laying the foundation for a new private-public partnership

  • Summary

The U.S. Perspective

Current U.S. energy portfolio

  • By 2030, U.S. electricity demand expected to increase ~ 30%

  • Nuclear generation is critical to U.S. efforts to:

    • Reduce greenhouse gases

    • Meet electricity demand

    • Ensure energy supply security and grid reliability

    • Curb increasing energy prices

  • Cost to replace the current fleet exceeds $500B in addition to the capacity that will be added as the U.S. builds new plants

It is in the U.S. interest for the current fleet of nuclear power plants to be operated as long as possible

“We have a situation where we have these high (oil) prices and the only solution is to diversify your resources, diversify your sources of fuel…” U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, June 7, 2008

Energy Security = Diversification

AP Photo

Source: NEI Nuclear Policy Overview Nov/Dec 2007

Energy policy must be implemented through long-standing policy based on energy security, beyond short term market forces

Reliance on existing plants

  • 40+20 year licenses means current plants shut down starting 2030

  • Steep reduction in generation if current fleet operations are not sustained

  • Without today’s nuclear plants, we lose:

    • 100 GWe of low-carbon generation over about 20 years – climate, air pollution concerns

    • Low-cost generation – economic concerns for businesses, homeowners

Extending operation of existing reactors will avoid ~12 billion metric tons CO2 and provide enough electricity for 70 million homes during an additional 20 years of operations.

License extension plans of 104 operating reactors

Program Vision and Goals



  • Existing nuclear power plants will continue to safely provide clean and affordable electricity beyond current license periods

  • Develop the understanding, tools, and processes to ensure continued long term safe operation of existing nuclear power plants

  • Develop technical and operational improvements that contribute to the economic viability of existing nuclear power plants

What have we done so far?

  • INL, EPRI examination of the issues associated with long term safe and economical operation of existing and new plants

  • DOE-NRC co-sponsored industry-wide workshop examining research questions and opportunities


  • Significant planning effort underway to launch a private-public partnership this fall

    • Subject matter expert workshops to identify research projects and priorities

    • Broad participation from industry, including NRC, EPRI, vendors, utilities, universities

    • Steering Committee

    • R&D Program Plan


Five high-priority objectives supporting operating LWRs:

R&D Program Objectives

Sustain high performance of reactor plant materials

Transition to state-of-the-art digital I&C

Advances in nuclear fuel

Implement broad-spectrum workforce development

Implement broad-spectrum improvements and design for sustainability

Collaborative R&D Program

Present Scope

  • Nuclear Materials Aging and Degradation

  • Advanced LWR Fuel Development

  • Risk-Informed Safety Margin Characterization

  • Advanced Instrumentation and Control Technologies


  • FY2009 - $9.75 Million

  • Initial focus on “component and material aging and degradation activities”

    R&D Implementation

  • Coordinated by INL Technical Integration Office (TIO)

  • Coordinated with EPRI and NRC-RES

  • Implementation through broad-based Industry / National Laboratories / University collaboration / international partners

Success Requires the Right Kind of Partnerships

  • Designed to facilitate industry and government decisions on long-term LWR operations

  • Industry and government jointly define and fund R&D

  • Provides access to expertise and facilities – leveraging the best experts on the right projects

  • Includes cost sharing dependent on type of research and timescale

  • Created with integrated collaboration among industry, government and universities

  • Independent steering committee oversight

Radiation Water

Chemistry Effects


Aging and


Advanced Fuels









and Controls

Performance Validation




Integration and collaboration between R&D pathways is critical for success of LWRSP

Four R&D areas have been identified:

Reactor Metals

Reactor Pressure Vessels

Core Internals

Secondary System





Nuclear Materials Aging and Degradation

  • Research to develop the scientific basis for understanding laboratory and field data on environmental degradation of materials, components, and structures essential to safe and sustained nuclear plant operations

Proactive Materials Degradation Assessment Matrix

Aging and Degradation – R&D Areas

Materials aging and degradation in nuclear reactor systems is complex

Understanding Combined Effects


Stainless steel


Cast stainless steel

Low-alloy steel

Zirconium alloys

Mechanical Failure


Thermal Aging, Embrittlement




Corrosive Media

(pH, ECP, flow rate)






Stress-Corrosion Cracking

Aging and Degradation – Time Table

Three areas of research

Advanced Designs and Concepts

Advanced Science-based Analysis for fundamental mechanistic understanding

Advanced Tools

Two Time Horizons

5-10: Support LTO decision in 2014-2019

10-20: Support LTO operation beyond 2030

Advanced LWR Fuel Development

  • Research to maintain and improve nuclear fuel designs to achieve improved economic performance while demonstrating safety and performance margins. Develop high burn-up fuel with improved cladding integrity as a primary fission product barrier

Advanced LWR Fuel Development – Time Table

Four Proposed Technical Projects:

Centralized On-line Monitoring for Critical SSCs

Information technology and degradation models/cases to enable real time automatic statistical analysis, pattern recognition, and criteria to diagnose degraded conditions and predict remaining useful life of SSCs

New I&C and HSI Capabilities and Architecture

Approach to achieve life cycle renewal of information & control capabilities needed to continue to operate safely and more efficiently

Life-cycle NDE Information Assessment

Enhancement of measurement (NDE+), data capture and storage for NPP primary systems to support forthcoming diagnostic and prognostic models

Maintaining the Licensing and Design Basis

Tacit knowledge capture and transfer enhanced by 3-D virtual models where beneficial

Advanced Instrumentation and Control Technologies

  • Research to improve inspection and monitoring technologies, including detailed strategies for managing Instrumentation & Control (I&C) system upgrades. Develop, implement, and evaluate prognostic monitoring approaches for both non-safety-related and safety-related systems

I&C Technologies Time Table

Three R&D Areas Identified:

Integrated Risk Modeling

aggregation of all hazards, declarative modeling, treatment of uncertainties

Enhanced technology integration

aging effects, equipment condition, visualization of results, real time success criteria

Real time analysis capability for operational risk management decision-making

advanced quantification techniques, plant data connectivity

Risk-Informed Safety Margin Characterization

  • Research to fully understand and incorporate single effects and integral testing results into both deterministic and risk-informed safety margin characterizations

RISMC R&D Strategy

RISMC Time Table


  • USG recognizes the important role of US nuclear power plants

  • New nuclear plants are not expected to come on-line to compensate for 60 year retirements

  • Continued long-term operation of existing nuclear plants is key to future emission-free generation

  • Research is necessary to establish basis for long-term operation of existing nuclear plants beyond 60 years

    • Be driven by industry needs

    • Answer questions on systems, structures and components aging and reliability issues associated with long-term operation

    • Leverage the resources of industry, national laboratory, and university system

    • Continue to improve LWR technology

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