Europe funds €5m project on reactor core monitoring

14 March 2017

Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, will coordinate a €5.1m ($5.4m) research and innovation project funded by the European Commission to improve nuclear safety. The four-year Cortex project - funded within the EU's Horizon2020 programme - aims to develop "beyond state-of-the-art" reactor core monitoring techniques that can detect and characterise operational problems in nuclear plants before they can affect plant safety or availability.

Photo: Christophe Demazière

Cortex (core monitoring techniques and experimental validation and demonstration) is managed by Paolo Vinai and Christophe Demazière, professors in the department of physics at Chalmers and also involves Professor Imre Pazsit who is head of subatomic and plasma physics at the department of physics. Sweden’s Ringhals nuclear power plant is part of the advisory group.

?“We believe that these techniques can be applied to both the existing fleet of operating nuclear reactors and the ones that will be built in the future. This will contribute to a lowering of the CO2 footprint on the environment, and to a more reliable production of cheap base-load electricity for the consumers. An additional aspect is the ageing fleet of reactors in Europe: operational problems are expected to be more frequent in these plants and we need to detect such problems at an early stage”, said Demazière.

The project is a large international collaboration involving 17 European partners, two partners from Japan, and one partner from the USA. The consortium consists of several research groups from academia, research institutes, safety and technical organisations, and private companies servicing the nuclear industry. In addition, this project is in line with the expertise and competence developed at Chalmers by Professor Imre Pázsit, who is also involved in the project.

“The scope of the research is very interdisciplinary. The project will combine the work of experts in different fields spanning from nuclear reactor physics to artificial intelligence and from computational to experimental physics. An advisory end-user group will help keep the research aligned with the needs of the nuclear industry and to maximize the impact in terms of industrial innovation”, said Vinai.

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