The US Department of Energy has now awarded three grants under its Nuclear Energy Research Initiative which is aimed at reducing the capital costs of future nuclear power plants.
The first grant covers development of a new approach that would simplify nuclear plant designs by using risk analysis tools. The analysis tools, including probabilistic risk assessment, would be used to identify, modify or eliminate current nuclear industry standards and regulatory requirements that do not significantly contribute to reliability and safety. By reducing unnecessary standards and regulations the capital costs of new nuclear plants could be lowered to a level that would make them competitive in deregulated power markets in the US and elsewhere.
ABB Combustion Engineering Nuclear Power (ABB-CENP) is to act as project manager for this part of the Initiative. The other companies involved will include: Sandia National Laboratory; Idaho National Engineering & Environmental Laboratory; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; North Carolina State University; Duke Engineering & Services; and Egan & Associates.
ABB-CENP has also won participation as a subcontractor in the two other grant awards. The first, whose project manager is Duke Engineering & Services, covers “Development of advanced technologies to reduce design, fabrication and construction costs for future nuclear plants”. The second, whose project manager is Sandia National Laboratory, covers “Smart equipment and systems to improve reliability and safety in future nuclear plant operations”.