Centralized Online Monitoring and Information Integration
As nuclear power systems begin to be operated during periods longer than originally anticipated, the need arises for more and better types of monitoring of material and system performance. This includes the need to move from periodic, manual assessments and surveillances of physical systems to online condition monitoring. This represents an important transformational step in the management of physical assets. It enables real-time assessment and monitoring of physical systems and better management of active components based on their actual performance. It also provides the ability to gather substantially more data through automated means and to analyze and trend performance using new methods to make more informed decisions about asset management and safety management.
New Instrumentation & Controls and Human System Interface Capabilities
R&D activities are aimed at the eventual modernization of II&C systems technologies used in nuclear energy production. Asset owners and regulators view these as enabling in the dialogue of long-term asset and safety management. The evidence of aged and obsolete technologies is abundant in the control centers of nuclear power plants. The analogy of control rooms as the tip of the iceberg for aging analog technology is particularly apt because it typifies both the problem and a substantial opportunity for R&D to impact systems on a plant scale much larger than what can be readily observed.
Through long-term collaborations with leading international research institutes and capitalizing on new national capabilities for simulation-based technology development and testing, research in visualization, process control, and automation is planned.
Non Destructive Examination Technologies
Activities are proposed to develop and test sensors and characterization methods and technologies for a range of nondestructive examination applications. Working closely with the Nuclear Materials Aging and Degradation R&D pathway, this pathway will develop sensors and accompanying technologies to detect and characterize the condition of material parameters needed to assess the performance of SSC materials during long-term operation, including sensors for measuring material properties to derive parameter estimates of specific aging and performance features and analytic capabilities and methods for characterizing the state and condition of material properties in order to obtain ‘diagnostic’ accuracy about material aging and degradation.
Activities also are proposed to build on sensors, characterization, and more refined diagnostics to enable prognostic assessments of materials and performance to be made. These capabilities will aid in answering the ‘so what’ types of questions that arise in connection with material assessments.
Advanced I&C Inputs
Ongoing working group activities between the staff of NRC and the nuclear power industry on digital technologies for advanced LWR design submittals underscore the need for a process of engagement within this pathway. Research results and data are needed that can be used for establishment of a regulatory technical basis to support rulemaking and reviews and to provide necessary confidence in the tailored application of these technologies for asset owners. This program includes a specific engagement activity to support interactions with the regulator in order to derive the greatest benefit from these research activities and to achieve goals for eventual deployments.
Industry Working Groups
Nuclear asset owner engagement is a necessary and enabling activity to obtain data and accurate characterization of long-term operational challenges, assess suitability of proposed research for addressing long-term needs, and gain access to data and representative infrastructure needed to assure success of the proposed R&D activities.