nuclear research
Image credit: Jacobs

US consulting firm Jacobs has been selected to lead an international consortium conducting research on how to extend the operational lifespan of nuclear power plants around the world.

The INCEFA-SCALE programme aims to reduce uncertainties about how critical components will perform when subjected to the harsh conditions inside operational nuclear power reactors.

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Although components and materials are extensively tested in laboratories, there are sometimes gaps in understanding the correlation between these tests and actual performance.

This can lead to fatigue assessment parameters being set more conservatively than necessary.

The research is intended to in those gaps by means of extensive data mining in international fatigue databases and detailed examination of test specimens to improve mechanistic understanding.

Greater certainty about component performance will avoid unnecessary closures of nuclear power plants when they are still economically viable and safe to operate.

“By successfully leading this research, Jacobs has demonstrated its capability to knit together an international consortium and to bring together the very best, complementary capabilities,” said Jacobs critical mission solutions international senior vice president Clive White.

“The European Union has sanctioned this follow-on project while the predecessor project is still live, which testifies to the success of the consortium and the relevance of the study topic to nuclear plant safety and lifetime assessments.”

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Operator of the UK’s largest independent nuclear laboratory complex in Warrington, Jacobs will contribute to multiaxial, thermo-mechanical and complex waveform testing to provide greater insight into the stresses and strains placed on components.

This work will complement component scale tests being carried out in the US by the Electric Power Research Institute, in collaboration with INCEFA-SCALE.

The European Union is providing most of the funding for the five-year, $8.1 million INCEFA-SCALE programme, which is a continuation of the previous INCEFA-PLUS programme.