(Crossposted from WebWire)
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced awards to two teams of industry experts to develop tools to transform the operations and maintenance of advanced nuclear reactors through the use of Artificial Intelligence-enabled digital twins using the GE Hitachi (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactor as a reference design.
GE Research and MIT have been awarded grants through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program to lead the project teams that will develop digital twin technology for advanced nuclear reactors utilizing artificial intelligence and advanced modeling controls.
The GE Research-led team consisting of Exelon Generation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and GEH will build a digital twin of BWRX-300 critical components and utilize artificial intelligence predictive technologies to make risk informed decisions. Exelon, which operates the largest U.S. fleet of nuclear power plants, will provide historical data based on significant experience to inform the model and targets which are aimed at reducing the operating and maintenance costs of advanced reactors.
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Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have signed an agreement to explore a new generation of flexible, cost effective advanced nuclear reactors. According to the agreement, the two organizations will work to boost the economic feasibility of possibly licensing, building, operating, and maintaining one or more advanced nuclear reactors, such as a small modular reactor.
These reactors offer the potential for lower-cost, carbon-free energy due to shorter construction times and increased operational flexibility. Recently, federal regulators approved an early site permit for TVA’s small modular reactor capable of generating 800 megawatts on the Clinch River in Oak Ridge.
This partnership continues decades of collaboration between ORNL and TVA. Speaking about this new partnership, TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash remarked that it “supports TVA’s mission for innovation and will allow us to better explore potential future nuclear technologies that benefit the 10 million people across seven states and help lead nuclear energy’s future in the United States.”
ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia emphasized that nuclear energy has long been a “key component” of the country’s energy portfolio and that “growing demand for emission-free electricity requires that we innovate to ensure safe, affordable and efficient nuclear power for generations to come.”
According to the memorandum of understanding, specific areas of importance that will be evaluated by the two entities include, but are not limited to:
- Development of advanced construction techniques
- Evaluation of integrated development activities for site infrastructure support
- Development of various economic deployment catalysts
- Innovation of advanced manufacturing technologies
- Use of technology deployment to meet regulatory and safety requirements more efficiently
TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in Tennessee. This collaboration allows both organizations to help nuclear generation play a stronger role in providing clean, reliable energy for TVA’s customers.