March 25, 2008

Idaho National Labs Strategic plan for light water nuclear reactors

Idaho National Lab Strategic plan for improving light water nuclear reactors This plan has not been adopted and funded yet, but recently released with INL's Utility Advisory Board and EPRI's Nuclear Power Council as the authors. I think the plan can and should be adopted, while parallel work is ongoing with uranium hydride reactors, molten salt reactors, high temperature gas reactors, IEC fusion and other alternative fusion and fission efforts.

Stretch Goals:
1. Life extension of the current fleet beyond 60 years (e.g., what would it
take to extend all lives to ~80 years?); and
2. Strong, sustained expansion of ALWRs throughout this century (e.g., what
would it take to proceed uninterrupted from first new plant deployments in
~2015 to sustained build-rates approaching 10+/year?).

Achieving a build rate of 10 plants per year, which on a sustained basis equates to about 50 plants under construction at any point in time, will require substantial investment in workforce training and new or refurbished manufacturing capability.

As of September 2007, 48 units have been granted 20-year license renewals by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), 14 more are in process, and over 30 units have stated their intent to file for license renewal. Given this success, it is assumed that all of the current plants will be licensed to 60 years. To extend the first plant retirements past mid-century will require another round of license extensions to 80 years. The first of these renewals are expected to be filed in the 2015–2020
timeframe, due to the lead times required for this important business decision.

Advanced Light Water Reactor Goals [new 2015-2020 reactors]
Goal 3: Successfully license, construct and operate the first mover ALWRs
through their first decade.
Goal 4: Remove the barriers to deployment of many new ALWRs.
Goal 5: Address lessons learned from the first ALWRs by developing new
technologies to improve performance.
Goal 6: Enable new missions and markets for ALWRs beyond electricity

R & D goals
1. Sustain high performance of reactor plant materials
2. Transition to state-of-the-art digital I&C
3. Advances in nuclear fuel
a. Enhance fuel reliability and performance
b. Develop high-burnup (HBU) fuel [85 Gwd/t target]
The HBU fuel program is expected to take about 10 years, and involves test and qualification of innovative fuels with uranium enrichment above 5%
4. Implement broad-spectrum workforce development
5. Implement broad-spectrum infrastructure improvements and design for sustainability
6. Address electricity infrastructure-wide problems that are NOT unique to nuclear energy but nevertheless pose unacceptable risks to current plant operations and new plant siting
a. Develop alternative cooling technologies
- Conventional ‘dry cooling’ greatly reduces the water required but incurs large (over 15%) parasitic power losses.
b. Expand high-voltage transmission infrastructure
7. Advanced fabrication, construction and inspection methods
8. Extend the application of risk management technologies and understanding of safety
9. Improve operational performance
10. Expand LWR technology into new missions and markets
a. Develop LWRs for application in regional markets
As an illustration, the heaviest equipment transportable on rail is 800 tons (about double the weight of a modern ALWR vessel), but is limited to a height of 16 feeti above the rail surface—well below the 20 foot diameter of a modern vessel. This research area would assess the economic and technical feasibility of developing optimum-size plants to meet this need, balancing economies of scale with the above constraints. This area may also consider markets that need or could use ALWRs of sizes even larger than those being licensed today, as dictated by regional demand.

b. Develop desalination and process heat technologies


Kirk Sorensen said...

b. Develop high-burnup (HBU) fuel [85 Gwd/t target]

It's pretty hard to get excited about this burnup level when uranium-233 in fluoride fuel lets you hit ~900,000 GWd/t, the theoretical limit.

Gary said...

Brian. Your site is having tech issues. Only four articles are loading up and the side bar isn't lodaing up either.
I've restarted my comp. and everything, but it is still not working

bw said...

Hi Gary,

the site is run through I am not sure what is causing the issue and have limited means to address it. I will check the html of my posts and see if something is there.

The 85 GWd/t would be a 70% improvement for the installed base of light water reactors. If we are keeping those running for another 40 years then it would be good that they run 70% better. Just as if I am not going to junk my current car, getting it upgrade to 170% of current mileage (30mpg up to 51mpg) is good. Even if we can get new flouride cars in ten years with 30000 mpg. The plan is only talking about the current breed of nuclear reactors.

bw said...

Looking at your link from your own diagram I think it is 914 GWd/t your link says 914,000 MWd/t.

So that would be 10.75 times better than the 85 GWd/t.

We definitely should go for that and fund the molten salt and flouride fuel reactors. Fuji Molten salt etc... $100 million for one good demo - $1-2 billion for a crash program.

bw said...

Hi Gary,

thanks. I fixed up some HTML in one of my posts and it is ok now.

You should be good either right now or with a reload.

Thanks again


bw said...

For the analogy of car fuel mileage the flouride fuel would be a 530 mpg car.

Cyril R. said...

Ambient air temperature has a considerable effect on parasitic losses. Dry coolings systems in cold climates work much better than dry cooling systems in hot deserts.

Heller dry cooling systems have much less parasitic loads, and cost about the same as a wet cooling tower.

There are also more promising options for heat exchanger materials, such as carbon foam that could reduce the cost while improving the performance of dry cooling systems.

djysrv said...

It makes sense to improve on efficiency and life extension for existing and proven reactor designs. Given the amount of work needed to bring a new reactor design into service, which can take years, the fastest path to deployment will be with current technologies.

The Idaho lab is also home to work on the Generation IV R&D reactor program and plans to build the "Next Generation Nuclear Plant." Like all demonstration plants the expected costs are always higher than anticipated, but that doesn't mean they won't prove out commercially in the long run. This is what's happening with South Africa's PBMR.