Making nuclear energy cost-competitive

Nuclear energy is a low-carbon energy source that is vital to decreasing carbon emissions. A critical factor in its continued viability as a future energy source is finding novel and innovative ways to improve operations and maintenance (O&M) costs in the next generation of advanced reactors. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) established the Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program to do exactly this. Through $27 million in funding, GEMINA is accelerating research, discovery, and development of new digital technologies that would produce effective and sustainable reductions in O&M costs
 
Three MIT research teams have received APRA-E GEMINA awards to generate critical data and strategies to reduce O&M costs for the next generation of nuclear power plants to make them more economical, flexible, and efficient. The MIT teams include researchers from Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering (NSE), the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. By leveraging state-of-art in high-fidelity simulations and unique MIT research reactor capabilities, the MIT-led teams will collaborate with leading industry partners with practical O&M experience and automation to support the development of digital twins. Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems that are programmed to have the same properties, specifications, and behavioral characteristics as actual systems. The goal is to apply artificial intelligence, advanced control systems, predictive maintenance, and model-based fault detection within the digital twins to inform the design of O&M frameworks for advanced nuclear power plants.
 

Credits: 

Writer: Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Photo: Yakov Ostrovsky

DLC: 

Nuclear Reactor Laboratory