The Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Tennessee—Knoxville hosted a presentation titled “A Conversation of the Future of Nuclear Energy in the United States” on Tuesday, September 5. Panelists were ANS member Jamie Coble, associate professor of nuclear engineering at UTK and associate editor of the American Nuclear Society journal Nuclear Technology; ANS member Scott Hunnewell, vice president for new nuclear at the Tennessee Valley Authority; and ANS member Andrew Nelson, section head for nuclear fuel development at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The discussion was moderated by Charles Sims, director of the Center for Energy, Transportation, and Environmental Policy at the Baker School.
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The nuclear power industry has the opportunity for significant advancements in the coming years, driven by the digital integration of instrumentation and controls (I&C), machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and optimized operations and maintenance (O&M) technologies. These developments are the enabling technologies that can ensure the efficiency, safety, and reliability of our future fleet of nuclear power plants, propelling the industry toward a more sustainable and intelligent future.
I&C plays a vital role in monitoring and controlling various aspects of nuclear power plants. Traditional I&C systems have relied on hardwired control circuits, but modern advancements are shifting towards digital I&C systems, also known as digital control systems (DCS). These systems offer enhanced flexibility, scalability, and reliability. They utilize advanced sensors, data acquisition systems, and distributed control algorithms to enable real-time monitoring, fault detection, and control optimization.