- GE Research to Receive $6.4 Million in ARPA-E Funding.
- It is for Advanced Used Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Technology.
- The project is part of ARPA-E’s Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy (CURIE) program.
GE’s solution will use novel sensors and imaging techniques with an AI-driven Digital Twin of the fuel reprocessing facility utilizing Distributed Ledger/Blockchain technology to enable real-time tracking of used fuel materials inside the facility with added safeguards and data securitization.
About GE Research
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“We’re aiming to develop a unique solution that would enable facility reprocessing operators to keep the tracking and measurements of used fuel flowing in the pipes of the facilities themselves. This has the potential to yield estimated savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually…” says Bogdan Neculaes, a Principal Scientist at GE Research.
Being able to measure nuclear material composition in real time has the potential to save facility operators hundreds of millions of dollars in costs from reduced downtime per year, while increasing the amount of used fuel that can be reprocessed. GE researchers are partnering with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, Orano, and Lumitron Technologies to develop and pilot these physical & digital technologies. The project is part of ARPA-E’s Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy (CURIE) program, which funds innovations in reprocessing technologies that aim to economically and securely recover valuable actinides from used nuclear fuel that can then be used to power the next generation of nuclear reactors.
Neculaes explained that today, fuel reprocessing operators must at times temporarily shut down plant operations to perform a full inventory of nuclear materials within the plant. Additionally, there are planned scheduled outages for these physical inventory checks.
The GE Research-led physical and digital solution would enable real-time tracking and measurements of a plant’s nuclear inventory, minimizing unplanned shutdowns and reducing the time required for planned shutdowns.
Safety At The Core
Understanding that the highest standards of safety and protocols must be maintained with data, GE will integrate an advanced distributed ledger/Blockchain technology to further secure the used fuel tracking data involved. Also, the MAYER (Monochromatic Assays Yielding Enhanced Reliability) acronym describing the techniques for analyzing used fuel was inspired by the renowned Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist, Maria Goeppert Mayer, whose work established the foundation for and helped advance the safe, reliable application of nuclear energy.
As part of the project, Sandia will provide models of reprocessing facilities that GE scientists will use to create its digital twin model. Orano, one of the world’s top nuclear fuel reprocessing operators, will provide guidance to ensure these digital models represent the most accurate depictions of a real plant facility. Lumitron Technologies specializes in monochromatic, tunable, high flux, compact laser Compton scattering radiation sources that enable the innovative sensors proposed in MAYER.
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