2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: More on advanced nuclear reactors and power systems

The third part of the“Advanced Nuclear Reactors and Power Systems” sessions during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting featured an examination of the status of various advanced reactors. The sessions were sponsored by the Operations and Power Division and chaired by Piyush Sabharwall of Idaho National Laboratory.

Here is an article on the first "Advanced Nuclear Reactors and Power Systems” session.

Presentation topics in the third and final session included using Modelica for system-level modeling and simulation of advanced reactors; the testing of fast-spectrum reactors’ gears and bearings in liquid sodium; and the creation of a simple core analysis tool called the Thermal hydrAulic COre Calculations using the single heAted channel meThod (TACOCAT) code.

Here are some of the highlights:

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: President’s Special Session

ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar took to the video screen on November 18 during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting for the President’s Special Session on radiation risk, echoing a comment by Exelon Nuclear’s Bryan Hanson, the Winter Meeting’s general cochair, who earlier in the week characterized radiation as one of the most misunderstood aspects of nuclear.

“I think that’s very true,” Dunzik-Gougar said. “So much misconception and misunderstanding. I have always had a passion for communicating about such things as radiation, helping people understand the nature of radiation and the relative risks of nuclear, but mostly about its benefits. But I think we in the industry can better prepare ourselves with knowledge about radiation and its impacts and also educate ourselves on how to talk about the risks of radiation with people not in our own echo chambers to help change the perception among a broader scope of people.”

The panel of experts assembled to help impart some of that knowledge to session attendees included Amir A. Bahadori, assistant professor at Kansas State University; Donald A. Cool, a technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute and a former senior executive at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Paul Locke, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Shaheen Dewji, assistant professor at Texas A&M University.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Fusion technology start-ups showcased at TOFE 2020

The Fusion Enterprise-I and -II sessions, held on November 18 as part of the TOFE 2020 embedded topical meeting at the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting, were chaired by Ales Necas, principal scientist at TAE Technologies, and featured presentations by speakers representing companies in the commercial fusion area.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Preview of NPIC&HMIT 2021

The November 17 session titled “Preview of NPIC&HMIT 2021” was sponsored by the Human Factors, Instrumentation and Controls Division. The session was chaired by Pradeep Ramuhalli, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and featured four panelists: Ronald L. Boring, of Idaho National Laboratory; Jamie B. Coble, of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; Raymond L. Herb, of Southern Nuclear Operating Company; and Hyun Gook Kang, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The panelists provided a preview of trends in I&C and human factors that are likely to be featured at the 12th ANS Topical Meeting on Nuclear Plant Instrumentation and Control and Human-Machine Interface Technology Conference (NPIC&HMIT), which will be held in conjunction with the 2021 ANS Annual Meeting in Providence, R.I., in June. Ramuhalli said that the paper submission process has begun. The NPIC&HMIT 2021 call for papers is available online.

Herb

The industry perspective: Herb, who works on digital modernization for Southern Nuclear’s reactor fleet, reflected on working early in his career with equipment that required daily calibration by I&C techs. “Operators running around the panels, checking here, checking there,” he said. “Now, I see a calm control room for operators at Vogtle-3 and -4 who can operate everything from one chair.”

Herb added that he is not a human factors expert. “All I can do is communicate the needs of the U.S. nuclear industry from my perspective,” he said. Among those needs are realistic task analysis and effective change management. While the U.S. fleet’s original analog control systems were “biased toward ‘no change,’” he said, Southern’s current fleet strategy “is incremental change with every design we put in, to shepherd our existing fleet to something that is closer to Vogtle-3 and -4.”

Boring

New modalities: Boring offered his take on what’s next for human factors. He pointed out that NPIC&HMIT 2019 had four sessions on validation, and that validation is critical because new digital control rooms need to be proven. “Many of our current fleet have had the same control rooms for 40 years,” he said. “We can’t hope to have a digital control room for 40 years—we have to support evolution over time.” He predicted that NPIC&HMIT 2021 will see an emphasis on validation and interaction modalities for new plants, such as microreactors and small modular reactors, including automation.

Coble

University support for data analytics: Coble talked about improving nuclear power economics through data-driven decision-making. Operating plants are being shut down, she said, and a big part of the problem is operating and maintenance costs. “How can we make nuclear more economical?” she asked. “The current approach of frequent equipment monitoring works to keep equipment reliability up but does not help with costs.”

Coble said that there is a need for development in sensors and in models and algorithms that mine large data sets. University research and training can help solve identified problems, she said, but while there is a well-developed data set on light-water reactors, equivalent data is not yet available for advanced reactors that operate differently, making it more difficult to set a risk-informed approach.

Kang

New topics: Kang took attendees on a deep dive into the topics that were presented at NPIC-HMIT 2019 and made some predictions for 2021. Control platforms and status identification and decision-making were well represented in 2019, as were newer topics of cybersecurity and wireless communications. In 2019, Kang said, “Operation automation was discussed, but ‘autonomous operation’ was not discussed yet. . . . I expect we will have more papers regarding this issue in the coming conference.”

That is just one of several topics Kang expects to see at the 2021 meeting, because, he said, I&C is a fast-moving area.

Other anticipated topics include the decision-making process between machine learning applications and human operators and practical cybersecurity solutions.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: ANS honors more award recipients during President’s Special Session

American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar recognized four Presidential Citation recipients and the Milton Levenson Distinguished Service Award winner on November 18 during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting. The following awards were presented as part of the ANS President’s Special Session.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: General Chair’s Special Session

The General Chair’s Special Session of the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting was held on November 17. Moderated by Paul Kearns, director of Argonne National Laboratory, and Bryan Hanson, executive vice president and chief generation officer of Exelon Nuclear, the session, titled “Nuclear Science and Industry: The next transformation,” featured a panel of science and industry experts discussing how innovation is transforming both the current fleet of reactors and preparing for a future with advanced reactors, integrated systems, and smarter grids.

In addition to the session’s respected panel members, the Zoom meeting included appearances from some top names in nuclear, including Holtec International’s Kris Singh, Sama Bilbao y Leon of the World Nuclear Association, Warren Miller, Jr. from Kairos Power and Texas A&M University, Terrestrial Energy’s David Hill, and many more. In a short, prerecorded video, these experts discussed many of the issues facing the nuclear industry today, which were then expounded upon by the panel members.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Observing the 50th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting opened on November 16 with a plenary session moderated by ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and more than 700 people in attendance. The opening plenary session was followed by nearly 40 panel and technical sessions. Recordings of all the sessions are posted on the meeting platform and can be view by all registered attendees at any time.

Two sessions held in the afternoon of opening day were centered around the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Both sessions featured distinguished experts on the NPT to discuss its successes, challenges, future, and the role of the United States in international nonproliferation.

TOFE 2020 opening plenary: Looking back and forward

Presented as an embedded topical meeting at the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting, the Technology of Fusion Energy (TOFE) 2020 meeting opened on November 16 with the first of four plenary sessions to be held during the week: “Looking Back and Looking Forward in Fusion.” (TOFE 2020 also features 29 technical sessions through November 19.)

The plenary session, chaired by Savannah River National Laboratory’s Greg Staack, featured two speakers: Melissa Hanson, curator for the Savannah River Site Cold War Historic Preservation Program, and Heather Lewtas, a technical lead for the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)’s Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production program.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Nuclear and politics--two views on the same conclusion

The 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting kicked off on Monday, November 16, with an opening plenary moderated by ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar. The session, delivered via Zoom, featured two keynote speakers—Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress and Jessica Lovering of the Good Energy Collective.

Chosen with deliberation, the two speakers represented two very different political and philosophical views of energy production, but each made the case why nuclear is the best choice for a better world.

2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting: Medical isotopes production and applications

The Monday session “Advancement in Medical Isotopes Production and Applications” of the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting was sponsored by the Isotopes & Radiation Division and co-chaired by Lin-Wen Hu of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and James Bowen of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Radioisotopes produced from nuclear reactors and accelerators are widely used for medical diagnostics and cancer therapy. Technetium-99m (decay product of molybdenum-99), for example, is used in more than 80 percent of nuclear medicine diagnostic procedures. The session featured speakers who discussed the advancement and status of domestic production and applications of medical isotopes.

ANS Virtual Winter Meeting gets under way

With the theme “Nuclear is Good for You,” the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting kicks off on November 16 with the opening plenary session. The plenary features two keynote speakers—Alex Epstein, of the Center for Industrial Progress, and Jessica Lovering, of the Good Energy Collective—in a discussion about why nuclear is the right choice for the benefit of all humankind.

The Winter Meeting features more than 35 panel sessions, 100-plus technical sessions, and more than 440 paper presentations.

More than 2,100 registrants have already signed up. That tops the preregistration total of 1,700 for the 2020 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting, which was the largest ANS meeting in modern history.

If you haven’t registered yet, do so now! Registration is open through Thursday, November 19.

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Nuclear Undone: A Familiar Advocate Takes Charge

Lenka Kollar

Readers of the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog will have seen, from time to time, the work of Lenka Kollar, educating and informing about a wide variety of nuclear issues.  Kollar, formerly of Argonne National Laboratory, has made the bold decision to make her own way as a nuclear advocate and consultant. We had a chance to catch up with Ms. Kollar during the 2013 American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. and ask her a few questions about her just-launched and exciting new initiative Nuclear Undone.