IEEE Development of Standards Supporting Advanced Reactor Design and Deployment
Nuclear power continues to be a significant contributor to carbon-free electric generation around the world. Reactor designs are now being developed for advanced reactors, such as Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and microreactors, that are vastly different than the current generation of Light Water Reactors. Providing consensus standards that support the design, operation and regulation of these emerging reactor technologies is vital to bringing these developing energy systems to the point where they are available to produce electric power in the relatively near future. The PES Nuclear Power Engineering Committee (NPEC) is one of several standards development organizations that provide standards related to the nuclear industry. These include the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) among a number of others. NPEC is responsible for developing and maintaining nuclear power plant standards in the electrical and electronic area that are used around the world in the nuclear power industry. To date NPEC has no standards specific to advanced reactors but has focused on making its standards reactor technology neutral to the extent possible and identifying specific standards needed to support advanced reactor development.
NPEC progress on advanced reactor standards is impeded by a number of challenges that include: (1) lack of experience with advanced reactors to achieve a consensus standard, (2) most members of the committee and subcommittees are practitioners in the current power industry and not in research related firms, (3) integration of NPEC’s efforts with other standard development organizations to avoid overlaps and be most effective with resources available and (4) the time required to publish a new standard, which may not be supportive of current advanced reactor development efforts. Over the past year NPEC has been engaged in a number of nuclear industry activities as a key standards development organization to support advanced reactors. Some relevant information from these activities is identified below.
Advanced Reactor Supporting Materials
American Nuclear Society (ANS) Special Committee on Advanced Reactor Policy (SCARP)
At the NPEC 20-01 meeting Steven Arndt, the chairman of the ANS standards board, provided a presentation based on a SCARP report that is titled “Setting the Right Bar: How Consensus Standards Help Advanced Reactor Development”. This report stressed that stakeholders, including the US Department of Energy, need to support the accelerated development of advanced reactor standards. The report identified the importance of codes and standards to help avoid unnecessary changes to designs and regulatory burdens while maintaining appropriate safety margins. The report concluded with five specific recommendations to congress, the DOE and the NRC.
NEI/ANS Advanced Reactor Workshop
On June 23, 2020 the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the ANS hosted an all-day workshop on Advanced Reactor Codes and Standards. The workshop featured six sessions focused on a wide variety of perspectives provided from advanced reactor developers, standards development organizations, the DOE and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This virtual workshop was attended by several hundred people from 22 countries demonstrating the broad interest in codes and standards beneficial to advanced reactor development. The NPEC chair provided its perspective in a panel session discussing issues that impede progress towards developing advanced reactor standards and potential solutions to those issues. Following the workshop, a set of recommended actions was provided to all participating organizations. That letter can be viewed here and the full set of presentations here.
USNRC Standards Forum
On October 13, 2020 the USNRC hosted a virtual standards forum that included seven sessions focused on a variety of aspects related to nuclear industry standards. Several NPEC representatives made presentations during the standards forum. Of particular note were two sessions relating to advanced reactors. One session focused on “Recent Developments in Codes and Standards for Advanced Reactors and Panel” while the final session of the day focused on “DOE Perspectives on Codes and Standards for Advanced Reactors.” Once again, the interest and urgent need for standards development organizations to work together to develop a standards and regulatory framework was evident. Presentation materials for the standards forum presentations can be accessed at the links provided here.
Getting Involved: Your Participation Requested
NPEC is actively seeking individuals who are involved with advanced reactor research, design, development and regulation to participate in its subcommittees and working groups. Information regarding NPEC’s organizations and upcoming meetings as well as contact information can be on the IEEE PES Nuclear Power Engineering Committee website.