As we begin a new year, it is natural not only to look back (see page 24 for top news stories of 2021) but also to look forward. Nuclear News reached out to leaders in the nuclear community to get their predictions on what 2022 has in store, whether broadly or for their specific areas within the community. Although the responses below are wide-ranging and varied, one thing is made clear by all of the respondents: 2022 will see growth and opportunity. The future for nuclear is bright.
January 21, 2022, 3:26PMNuclear News
June 11, 2021, 3:20PMUpdated December 29, 2021, 2:59PMNuclear News
As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The June issue reviewed some topics in human factors and instrumentation and controls such as the article below that looks at the NRC's review of digital instrumentation systems in the current fleet.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commissiona first formally developed infrastructure for the review of digital instrumentation and control (I&C) systems in the 1990s. Although the current fleet of nuclear power plants in the United States was originally designed and constructed with analog systems, the U.S. nuclear industry has for more than 30 years been working to upgrade these older systems with modern digital equipment.
Building instrumentation and control technologies into the design of the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors will help the industry meet zero-carbon-emissions goals.
December 23, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
As a source of carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy currently dominates in the United States. However, the light water reactors in the U.S. are approaching the end of their licensed service lives. Meanwhile, low-cost electricity generated by fossil fuel–based sources (such as natural gas) poses an ongoing challenge to the economic viability of commercial nuclear reactors. To enhance the competitiveness of the nuclear industry, we need to bring down the high operating and maintenance (O&M) costs through savings available from utilizing modern, efficient sensing and automation technologies.
November 9, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
French nuclear reactor company Framatome has completed its purchase of Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Instrumentation and Control. Framatome announced in December 2020 that it had agreed to acquire Rolls-Royce’s I&C business, which has operations in France, the Czech Republic, and China.
According to Framatome, the transaction builds on the company’s engineering expertise, enlarges its industrial footprint, and expands its global I&C systems development and deployment capabilities.
October 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Department of Energy is providing $50 million in a cost-sharing project with Exelon Generation to digitalize the control room at the company’s Limerick nuclear power plant, the department announced yesterday. Once implemented, the facility will house the first fully digital safety system upgrade at a U.S. nuclear power plant.
July 1, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News
As indicated in the April issue of Nuclear News, development of advanced reactor concepts heavily emphasizes small modular reactors and microreactors. Promised features, such as capital cost savings, plant system simplification, implementation flexibility, and favorable operational responsiveness with passive safety behavior, all promote small reactors as desirable, non-carbon-emitting power sources to help satisfy future energy needs. In spite of the favorable up-front economics compared to large nuclear reactors, SMRs and microreactors do not provide the benefit of economy of scale that typically compensates for the high staffing demands associated with traditional, labor-intensive operations and maintenance (O&M) practices in the nuclear industry. To avoid the prospect that high staffing levels relative to unit power production will lead to unsustainable O&M costs for small reactors, a significantly higher degree of automation, to the point of near autonomy, is necessary. Essentially, the economy of automation is needed to offset the loss of economy of scale.
June 18, 2021, 1:55PMNuclear News
Online monitoring (OLM) technology can be used in nuclear power plants as an analytical tool to measure sensor drift during plant operation and thereby identify the sensors whose calibration must be checked physically during an outage. The technology involves a procedure to (1) retrieve redundant sensor measurements from the process computer or through a separate data acquisition system, (2) calculate the average of these measurements and the deviation of each sensor from the average, and (3) identify any sensor that has deviated beyond its predetermined monitoring limit.
June 4, 2021, 9:34AMSponsored Content
As the U.S. nuclear industry moves into plant life extension and subsequent license renewals, the modernization of safety instrumentation and control (I&C) systems holds significant potential to transform plant operations. Automated system diagnostics, equipment health monitoring, and performance indications reduce the need for manual surveillance activities and enable condition-based maintenance, resulting in improved system reliability and reduced maintenance costs. Despite these benefits, adoption of digital I&C systems for safety-related applications across the domestic nuclear fleet has been slow. U.S. nuclear power plants that do choose to embrace the transition from analog to digital are in good company; international plants have successfully implemented digital safety systems for more than a decade. Furthermore, digital safety systems are also the first choice of the growing small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor (AR) communities.
April 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 6 issued a violation notice and proposed a $150,000 civil penalty to Florida Power & Light Company for falsifying plant records and recording inaccurate data in maintenance records at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Homestead, Fla.
December 7, 2020, 3:02PMNuclear News
Framatome has signed a sale purchase agreement with Rolls-Royce to acquire its civil nuclear instrumentation and control business, the companies announced on December 7. The I&C business includes all Rolls-Royce activities and teams based in France, the Czech Republic, and China.
Idaho’s ATR Critical Facility undergoes a digital control system upgrade.
October 16, 2020, 2:18PMNuclear News
At first glance, the Advanced Test Reactor Critical (ATRC) Facility has very little in common with a full-size 800- or 1,000-MW nuclear power reactor. The similarities are there, however, as are the lessons to be learned from efforts to modernize the instrumentation and control systems that make them valuable assets, far beyond what their designers had envisioned.
One of four research and test reactors at Idaho National Laboratory, the ATRC is a low-power critical facility that directly supports the operations of INL’s 250-MW Advanced Test Reactor (ATR). Located in the same building, the ATR and the ATRC share the canal used for storing fuel and experiment assemblies between operating cycles.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program, led by Idaho National Laboratory, works closely with utilities to improve outage efficiencies and enable nuclear to go “toe-to-toe economically” with other energy sources.
July 31, 2020, 2:54PMNuclear News
There are numerous similarities between auto racing pit crews and the people in the nuclear power industry who get us through outages: Pace. Efficiency. Diagnostics. Teamwork. Skill. And safety above all else.
To Paul Hunton, a research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, the keys to successfully navigating a nuclear plant outage are planning and preparation. “When you go into an outage, you are ready,” Hunton said. “You need to manage outage time. You want to avoid adding delays to the scheduled outage work because if you do, it can add a couple million dollars to the cost.”
Hunton was the principal investigator for the September 2019 report Addressing Nuclear Instrumentation and Control (I&C) Modernization Through Application of Techniques Employed in Other Industries, produced for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program, led by INL. Hunton drew on his experience outside the nuclear industry, including a decade at Newport News Shipbuilding.
August 29, 2014, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe