A new European Union collaborative research project co-ordinated by Finland's VTT Technical Research Centre, seeks to improve the understanding of ageing and deterioration of such concrete.
The ACES porject consortium comprises Commissariat a l'energie atomique et aux energies alternatives (CEA), L'Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) and EDF - France; Czech Technical University (CTU) and Centrum výzkumu Rež (CVR) - Czech Republic; Energorisk - Ukraine; Engie Lab and SCK•CEN - Belgium; National Building and Civil Engineering Institute (ZAG) – Slovenia; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) - USA.
“The ACES project will have a significant impact on the safety of current operational nuclear power plants, and will also impact the design of next-generation plants,” said Miguel Ferreira, project coordinator at VTT. “It will improve the understanding of ageing of concrete, and more importantly will demonstrate and quantify inherent safety margins defined by codes and standards employed through-out the life of the plant,” he added.
The project began on 1 September and will continue until 31 August 2024 with a total budget of just over €5,090,580 ($6m), including €3,999, 562 from the European Commission under the H2020-Euratom-1 programme.
The main objective and mission of ACES is to "advance the assessment of safety performance of civil engineering structures by addressing remaining scientific and technology gaps for the safe and long-term operation of nuclear power plants safety-critical concrete infrastructure," VTT said. ACES enables operators and regulators to improve the understanding, and hence the prediction of ageing phenomena occurring in safety-critical concrete infrastructure in order to ensure safe long term operation of existing European nuclear power plants. This aim will be achieved by providing further knowledge and tools to manage the ageing of nuclear reactors, it added.
The EU said an important goal of ACES is the dissemination and the education of the nuclear engineering and research community. “This will improve and harmonise knowledge about NPPs’ ageing and thereby ensure a high impact of project results. ACES results will be disseminated to main European and international stakeholders.”
VTT said ACES aims to have a significant impact on the safety of operational Gen II and III reactors, and impact the design of next-generation plants. ACES will improve the understanding of ageing and deterioration of concrete, and will demonstrate and quantify inherent safety margins introduced by the conservative approaches used during design, and defined by codes and standards employed throughout the life of the plant.