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Penfield and Enos: Outage planning in the COVID-19 era
Energy Harbor’s Beaver Valley plant, located about 34 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, Pa., was one of many nuclear sites preparing for a scheduled outage as the coronavirus pandemic intensified in March. The baseline objective of any planned outage—to complete refueling on time and get back to producing power—was complicated by the need to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
While over 200 of the plant’s 850 staff members worked from home to support the outage, about 800 contractors were brought in for jobs that could only be done on-site. Nuclear News Staff Writer Susan Gallier talked with Beaver Valley Site Vice President Rod Penfield and General Plant Manager Matt Enos about the planning and communication required.
Beaver Valley can look forward to several more outages in the future, now that plans to shut down the two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors, each rated at about 960 MWe, were reversed in March. “The deactivation announcement happened in the middle of all our planning,” Enos said. “It’s a shame we haven’t had a chance to get together as a large group and celebrate that yet.”
While the focus remains on safe pandemic operations, the site now has two causes for celebration: an outage success and a long future ahead.
Zeyun Wu, Robert E. Williams, J. Michael Rowe, Thomas H. Newton, Sean O’Kelly
Nuclear Technology | Volume 199 | Number 1 | July 2017 | Pages 67-82
Technical Paper | dx.doi.org/10.1080/00295450.2017.1335146
Articles are hosted by Taylor and Francis Online.
This paper presents preliminary neutronics and thermal hydraulics safety analysis results for a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fueled research reactor concept being studied at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The main goal of this research reactor is to provide advanced sources for neutron scattering experiments with a particular emphasis given to high intensity cold neutron sources (CNSs). A tank-in-pool type reactor with an innovative horizontally split compact core was developed in order to maximize the yield of the thermal flux trap in the reflector area. The reactor concept considered a 20 MW thermal power and a 30-day operating cycle. For non-proliferation purposes, a LEU fuel (U3Si2-Al) with 19.75 wt% enrichment was used. The core performance characteristics of an equilibrium cycle with several representative burnup states—including startup and end of cycle—were obtained using the Monte Carlo–based code MCNP6. The estimated maximum perturbed thermal flux of the core is ~5.0 × 1014 n/cm2-s. The calculated brightness of the CNS demonstrates an average gain factor of ~4 compared to the current source operated at the existing NIST reactor. Sufficient reactivity control worth and shutdown margins were provided by hafnium control elements. Reactivity coefficients were evaluated to ensure negative feedback. Thermal hydraulics safety studies of the reactor were performed using the multi-channel safety analysis code PARET. Steady-state analysis shows that the peak cladding temperature and minimum critical heat flux ratio are less than design limits with sufficient safety margins. Detailed transient analyses for a couple of hypothetical design-basis accidents show that no fuel damage or cladding failure would occur with the protection of reactor scrams. All these study results suggest this new research reactor concept offers a demonstrable potential to greatly expand the cold neutron capability with a 20 MW power and certified LEU fuels.