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Title: Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program: Digital Technology Business Case Methodology Guide

Abstract

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program aims to develop and deploy technologies that will make the existing U.S. nuclear fleet more efficient and competitive. The program has developed a standard methodology for determining the impact of new technologies in order to assist nuclear power plant (NPP) operators in building sound business cases. The Advanced Instrumentation, Information, and Control (II&C) Systems Technologies Pathway is part of the DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program. It conducts targeted research and development (R&D) to address aging and reliability concerns with the legacy instrumentation and control and related information systems of the U.S. operating light water reactor (LWR) fleet. This work involves two major goals: (1) to ensure that legacy analog II&C systems are not life-limiting issues for the LWR fleet and (2) to implement digital II&C technology in a manner that enables broad innovation and business improvement in the NPP operating model. Resolving long-term operational concerns with the II&C systems contributes to the long-term sustainability of the LWR fleet, which is vital to the nation’s energy and environmental security. The II&C Pathway is conducting a series of pilot projects that enable the development and deployment of new II&C technologiesmore » in existing nuclear plants. Through the LWRS program, individual utilities and plants are able to participate in these projects or otherwise leverage the results of projects conducted at demonstration plants. Performance advantages of the new pilot project technologies are widely acknowledged, but it has proven difficult for utilities to derive business cases for justifying investment in these new capabilities. Lack of a business case is often cited by utilities as a barrier to pursuing wide-scale application of digital technologies to nuclear plant work activities. The decision to move forward with funding usually hinges on demonstrating actual cost reductions that can be credited to budgets and thereby truly reduce O&M or capital costs. Technology enhancements, while enhancing work methods and making work more efficient, often fail to eliminate workload such that it changes overall staffing and material cost requirements. It is critical to demonstrate cost reductions or impacts on non-cost performance objectives in order for the business case to justify investment by nuclear operators. The Business Case Methodology (BCM) addresses the “benefit” side of the analysis—as opposed to the cost side—and how the organization evaluates discretionary projects (net present value (NPV), accounting effects of taxes, discount rates, etc.). The cost and analysis side is not particularly difficult for the organization and can usually be determined with a fair amount of precision (not withstanding implementation project cost overruns). It is in determining the "benefits" side of the analysis that utilities have more difficulty in technology projects and that is the focus of this methodology.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [2]
  1. Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
  2. ScottMadden, Inc., Raleigh, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Idaho National Lab. (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Nuclear Energy (NE)
Contributing Org.:
ScottMadden, Inc., Raleigh, NC (United States)
OSTI Identifier:
1168627
Report Number(s):
INL/EXT-14-33129
DOE Contract Number:
AC07-05ID14517
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
46 INSTRUMENTATION RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY; Nuclear Plant Digital Applications; Business Case Methodology; Technical Cost Benefit Methodology

Citation Formats

Thomas, Ken, Lawrie, Sean, Hart, Adam, and Vlahoplus, Chris. Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program: Digital Technology Business Case Methodology Guide. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.2172/1168627.
Thomas, Ken, Lawrie, Sean, Hart, Adam, & Vlahoplus, Chris. Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program: Digital Technology Business Case Methodology Guide. United States. doi:10.2172/1168627.
Thomas, Ken, Lawrie, Sean, Hart, Adam, and Vlahoplus, Chris. Mon . "Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program: Digital Technology Business Case Methodology Guide". United States. doi:10.2172/1168627. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1168627.
@article{osti_1168627,
title = {Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program: Digital Technology Business Case Methodology Guide},
author = {Thomas, Ken and Lawrie, Sean and Hart, Adam and Vlahoplus, Chris},
abstractNote = {The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program aims to develop and deploy technologies that will make the existing U.S. nuclear fleet more efficient and competitive. The program has developed a standard methodology for determining the impact of new technologies in order to assist nuclear power plant (NPP) operators in building sound business cases. The Advanced Instrumentation, Information, and Control (II&C) Systems Technologies Pathway is part of the DOE’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program. It conducts targeted research and development (R&D) to address aging and reliability concerns with the legacy instrumentation and control and related information systems of the U.S. operating light water reactor (LWR) fleet. This work involves two major goals: (1) to ensure that legacy analog II&C systems are not life-limiting issues for the LWR fleet and (2) to implement digital II&C technology in a manner that enables broad innovation and business improvement in the NPP operating model. Resolving long-term operational concerns with the II&C systems contributes to the long-term sustainability of the LWR fleet, which is vital to the nation’s energy and environmental security. The II&C Pathway is conducting a series of pilot projects that enable the development and deployment of new II&C technologies in existing nuclear plants. Through the LWRS program, individual utilities and plants are able to participate in these projects or otherwise leverage the results of projects conducted at demonstration plants. Performance advantages of the new pilot project technologies are widely acknowledged, but it has proven difficult for utilities to derive business cases for justifying investment in these new capabilities. Lack of a business case is often cited by utilities as a barrier to pursuing wide-scale application of digital technologies to nuclear plant work activities. The decision to move forward with funding usually hinges on demonstrating actual cost reductions that can be credited to budgets and thereby truly reduce O&M or capital costs. Technology enhancements, while enhancing work methods and making work more efficient, often fail to eliminate workload such that it changes overall staffing and material cost requirements. It is critical to demonstrate cost reductions or impacts on non-cost performance objectives in order for the business case to justify investment by nuclear operators. The Business Case Methodology (BCM) addresses the “benefit” side of the analysis—as opposed to the cost side—and how the organization evaluates discretionary projects (net present value (NPV), accounting effects of taxes, discount rates, etc.). The cost and analysis side is not particularly difficult for the organization and can usually be determined with a fair amount of precision (not withstanding implementation project cost overruns). It is in determining the "benefits" side of the analysis that utilities have more difficulty in technology projects and that is the focus of this methodology.},
doi = {10.2172/1168627},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Mon Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}

Technical Report:

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  • The existing fleet of nuclear power plants is in the process of extending its lifetime and increasing the power generated. In order to evaluate the impact of these two factors on the safety of the plant, the Risk Informed Safety Margin Characterization (RISMC) project aims to provide insight to decision makers through a series of simulations of the plant dynamics for different initial conditions (e.g., probabilistic analysis and uncertainty quantification). This report focuses, in particular, on the impact of power uprate on the safety of a boiled water reactor system. The case study considered is a loss of off-site powermore » followed by the loss of diesel generators, i.e., a station black out (SBO) event. Analysis is performed by using a thermo-hydraulic code, i.e. RELAP-5, and a stochastic analysis tool currently under development at INL, i.e. RAVEN. Starting from the event tree models contained in SAPHIRE, we built the input file for RELAP-5 that models in great detail system dynamics under SBO conditions. We also interfaced RAVEN with RELAP-5 so that it would be possible to run multiple RELAP-5 simulation runs by changing specific keywords of the input file. We both employed classical statistical tools, i.e. Monte-Carlo, and more advanced machine learning based algorithms to perform uncertainty quantification in order to quantify changes in system performance and limitations as a consequence of power uprate. We also employed advanced data analysis and visualization tools that helped us to correlate simulation outcome such as maximum core temperature with a set of input uncertain parameters. Results obtained gave a detailed overview of the issues associated to power uprate for a SBO accident scenario. We were able to quantify how timing of safety related events were impacted by a higher reactor core power. Such insights can provide useful material to the decision makers to perform risk-infomed safety margins management.« less
  • There are many technologies available to the nuclear power industry to improve efficiency in plant work activities. These range from new control room technologies to those for mobile field workers. They can make a positive impact on a wide range of performance objectives – increase in productivity, human error reduction, validation of results, accurate transfer of data, and elimination of repetitive tasks. It is expected that the industry will more and more turn to these technologies to achieve these operational efficiencies to lower costs. At the same time, this will help utilities manage a looming staffing problem as the inevitablemore » retirement wave of the more seasoned workers affects both staffing levels and knowledge retention. A barrier to this wide-scale implementation of new technologies for operational efficiency is the lack of a comprehensive digital architecture that can support the real-time information exchanges needed to achieve the desired operational efficiencies. This project will define an advanced digital architecture that will accommodate the entire range of system, process, and plant worker activity to enable the highest degree of integration, thereby creating maximum efficiency and productivity. This pilot project will consider a range of open standards that are suitable for the various data and communication requirements of a seamless digital environment. It will map these standards into an overall architecture to support the II&C developments of this research program.« less
  • The Digital Architecture effort is a part of the Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored Light-Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program conducted at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The LWRS program is performed in close collaboration with industry research and development (R&D) programs that provides the technical foundations for licensing and managing the long-term, safe, and economical operation of current nuclear power plants (NPPs). One of the primary missions of the LWRS program is to help the U.S. nuclear industry adopt new technologies and engineering solutions that facilitate the continued safe operation of the plants and extension of the current operating licenses. Therefore,more » a major objective of the LWRS program is the development of a seamless digital environment for plant operations and support by integrating information from plant systems with plant processes for nuclear workers through an array of interconnected technologies. In order to get the most benefits of the advanced technology suggested by the different research activities in the LWRS program, the nuclear utilities need a digital architecture in place to support the technology. A digital architecture can be defined as a collection of information technology (IT) capabilities needed to support and integrate a wide-spectrum of real-time digital capabilities for nuclear power plant performance improvements. It is not hard to imagine that many processes within the plant can be largely improved from both a system and human performance perspective by utilizing a plant wide (or near plant wide) wireless network. For example, a plant wide wireless network allows for real time plant status information to easily be accessed in the control room, field workers’ computer-based procedures can be updated based on the real time plant status, and status on ongoing procedures can be incorporated into smart schedules in the outage command center to allow for more accurate planning of critical tasks. The goal of the digital architecture project is to provide a long-term strategy to integrate plant systems, plant processes, and plant workers. This include technologies to improve nuclear worker efficiency and human performance; to offset a range of plant surveillance and testing activities with new on-line monitoring technologies; improve command, control, and collaboration in settings such as outage control centers and work execution centers; and finally to improve operator performance with new operator aid technologies for the control room. The requirements identified through the activities in the Digital Architecture project will be used to estimate the amount of traffic on the network and hence estimating the minimal bandwidth needed.« less
  • Safety is central to the design, licensing, operation, and economics of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs). Consequently, the ability to better characterize and quantify safety margin holds the key to improved decision making about LWR design, operation, and plant life extension. A systematic approach to characterization of safety margins and the subsequent margins management options represents a vital input to the licensee and regulatory analysis and decision making that will be involved. The purpose of the RISMC Pathway R&D is to support plant decisions for risk-informed margins management with the aim to improve economics, reliability, and sustain safety of current NPPs.more » Goals of the RISMC Pathway are twofold: (1) Develop and demonstrate a risk-assessment method coupled to safety margin quantification that can be used by NPP decision makers as part of their margin recovery strategies. (2) Create an advanced “RISMC toolkit” that enables more accurate representation of NPP safety margin. This report describes the RISMC methodology demonstration where the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) was used as a test-bed for purposes of determining safety margins. As part of the demonstration, we describe how both the thermal-hydraulics and probabilistic safety calculations are integrated and used to quantify margin management strategies.« less
  • The INL has carried out a demonstration of the RISMC approach for the purpose of configuration risk management. We have shown how improved accuracy and realism can be achieved by simulating changes in risk – as a function of different configurations – in order to determine safety margins as the plant is modified. We described the various technical issues that play a role in these configuration-based calculations with the intent that future applications can take advantage of the analysis benefits while avoiding some of the technical pitfalls that are found for these types of calculations. Specific recommendations have been providedmore » on a variety of topics aimed at improving the safety margin analysis and strengthening the technical basis behind the analysis process.« less