The US operating fleet of light water reactors (LWRs) is currently undergoing life extensions from the original 40-year license to 60 years of operation. In the US, 74 reactors have been approved for the first round license extension, and 19 additional applications are currently under review. Safe and economic operation of these plants beyond 60 years is now being considered in anticipation of a second round of license extensions to 80 years of operation.
Greater situational awareness of key systems, structures, and components (SSCs) can provide the technical basis for extending the life of SSCs beyond the original design life and supports improvements in both safety and economics by supporting optimized maintenance planning and power uprates. These issues are not specific to the aging LWRs; future reactors (including Generation III+ LWRs, advanced reactors, small modular reactors, and fast reactors) can benefit from the same situational awareness. In fact, many SMR and advanced reactor designs have increased operating cycles (typically four years up to forty years), which reduce the opportunities for inspection and maintenance at frequent, scheduled outages. Understanding of the current condition of key equipment and the expected evolution of degradation during the next operating cycle allows for targeted inspection and maintenance activities. This article reviews the state of the art and the state of practice of prognostics and health management (PHM) for nuclear power systems. Key research needs and technical gaps are highlighted that must be addressed in order to fully realize the benefits of PHM in nuclear facilities.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/leonard_bond/10/