Plant life management and modernisation: Research challenges in the EU

Rauno Rintamaa (Corresponding Author), Irina Aho-Mantila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The European network of excellence NULIFE (nuclear plant life prediction) has been launched with a clear focus on integrating safety-oriented research on materials, structures and systems and exploiting the results of this integration through the production of harmonised lifetime assessment methods. NULIFE will help provide a better common understanding of the factors affecting the lifetime of nuclear power plants which, together with associated management methods, will help facilitate safe and economic long-term operation of existing nuclear power plants. In addition, NULIFE will help in the development of design criteria for future generations of nuclear power plant.

NULIFE was kicked-off in October 2006 and will work over a 5-year period to create a single organization structure, capable of providing harmonised research and development (R&D) at European level to the nuclear power industry and the related safety authorities. Led by VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland), the project has a total budget in excess of 8 million euros, with over 40 partners drawn from leading research institutions, technical support organizations, electric power utilities and manufacturers throughout Europe. NULIFE also involves many industrial organizations and, in addition to their R&D contributions, these take part in a dedicated End User Group.

Over the last 15 years the European Commission has sponsored a significant number of R&D projects under the Euratom Framework Programme and its Joint Research Centre has developed co-operative European Networks for mutual benefits on specific topics related to plant life management. However, their overall impact has been reduced due to fragmentation. These networks are considered forerunners to NULIFE. The importance of the long-term operation of the plants has been recognized at European level, in the strategic research agenda of SNETP (Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform). In NULIFE, the joint EU-wide coordinated research strategy for plant life integrity management and long-term operation has been defined.

Mapping exercise of expertises performed under NULIFE confirmed that NULIFE R&D resources are versatile and high quality. In addition to the wide range of technical expertise available, these are widely spread at geographical and organizational level. Four expert groups, with identified members and links to national programmes, have now produced state-of-the-art type reports related to their expertises. Stress corrosion cracking and thermal fatigue pilot projects have finished concluding reports. Several project proposals have been introduced and optimised for new NULIFE pilot projects or other R&D projects.

Based on NULIFE business plan, the discussion of long-term business plan, operational model and statute of the future NULIFE institute has been started. NULIFE maintains the sustainability of nuclear power by focusing on the continued, 60+ years of safe operation of nuclear power plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3389-3394
JournalNuclear Engineering and Design
Volume241
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
Event7th European Commission conference on Euratom research and training in reactor systems (Fission Safety 2009)
- Prague, Czech Republic
Duration: 22 Jun 200924 Jun 2009

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