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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T016329/1
Title: Enhanced Methodologies for Advanced Nuclear System Safety (eMEANSS)
Principal Investigator: Middleburgh, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Truman, Professor CE Bluck, Dr MJ Whittle, Professor KR
Walker, Dr S Marrow, Professor J Parks, Dr GT
Nuttall, Professor WJ Patelli, Professor E Grimes, Professor RW
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
National Nuclear Laboratory
Department: Sch of Computer Science & Electronic Eng
Organisation: Bangor University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 14 January 2022 Ends: 13 January 2025 Value (£): 854,923
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Nuclear
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Oct 2019 UK-India Civil Nuclear Collaboration Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
A re-assessment of the impact of uncertainties within the nuclear industry is of paramount importance, not only ensuring the continued safety of nuclear energy systems, but also to ensure the economic viability of nuclear power, allowing for continued reductions in CO2 emissions globally.

Uncertainties are unavoidable, and complex systems such as nuclear reactors are designed to cope with them. A naive approach would be to consider worst cases scenarios individually without considering their dependencies. This approach can produce over-designed and expensive systems without guaranteeing their overall safety. Proper quantification and propagation of uncertainty across multi-physical components allows one to determine vulnerable componentry, prioritise investments, identify operational margins and adopt relevant measures to guarantee safety whilst at the same time reducing the overall cost of advanced nuclear design.

Methods will be synthesised as part of this project to improve the estimation of uncertainty/safety, bringing together researchers specialising in reactor physics, fuel performance, structural materials and uncertainty quantification.

Work package 1: In reactor physics the new methods will be tested by considering the uncertainties propagated through a severe nuclear reactor accident assessment, specifically a loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA). The project will attempt to target and reduce uncertainties related to properties including nuclear data associated with specific isotopes and temperature dependent effects corresponding to neutron capture cross-sections. Drawing on the expertise in the UK and India, the enhancements in the methods utilised will have far-reaching impacts.

Work package 2: Fatigue failure of graphite components, especially at high service temperatures, is of serious concern for next generation reactors. A design tool is to be produced that can efficiently incorporate variances in the mechanical and thermal loading history, and material properties to quantify a probable component life. In addition to the simple uncertainties in boundary conditions, complications arise from both the load sequence and the temperatures at which loading occurs, coupled with the impacts arising from neutron irradiation, temperature and coolant interactions. The world-leading team in the UK and India will generate new knowledge on the high temperature cyclic response of advanced nuclear graphite and will utilise it in the development of a new probabilistic modelling framework.

Work package 3: Nuclear fuel performance codes predict the behaviour of fuel in a reactor, allowing operating regimes to be tested that avoid fuel melting or fuel failure. The models improved over decades of experience in the UO2-Zr system remain highly empirical (i.e. not mechanistic) and large uncertainties exist that are to be quantified through the use of uncertainty modelling (depending on each model's impact) and reduced through the addition of mechanistic models. Novel fuels with greater uncertainties will also be considered. Here, uncertainty modelling will be used to target the most rapid reduction of uncertainty of behaviour possible to expedite licensing and commercial use of the fuel.

Work package 4: The uncertainty models will be identified and commonalities will be linked to enable the overarching uncertainty methodology to be formulated. This is an important task that will ensure the outputs from the targeted examples (in work packages 1-3) have far reaching impact beyond themselves in other areas of nuclear engineering and beyond. In addition to linking the uncertainty modelling methods this work package will lead by communicating the results to the wider community through publications and workshops.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.bangor.ac.uk