Digital Engineering Showcases potential to change the Global Nuclear Energy Industry

Posted On March 18, 2021     

Nuclear Energy Industry is rather vulnerable to cost overrun and schedule delays. Digital Engineering might be of some help in accelerating the deployment of advanced nuclear reactors in this sector. Reactor designers can use it to link all the information about project management, nuclear engineering, and design in a centralized system. A “digital twin” would enable different departments to update the plans and designs in real-time before the physical systems have been built. This will enhance the quality and efficiency of the project, lower costs, and help individuals better adhere to schedules.

Recently, NRIC (National Reactor Innovation Center) and INL (Idaho National Laboratory) have revealed that they collaborate with several other companies to incorporate digital engineering in their project design. This is an important development in Nuclear Energy Industry because if this method is inculcated, it would lead to more efficiency when it comes to the completion of projects while also reducing costs of the project at the same time. Staff from NRIC is working with TerraPower technical and project management team so that requirements and interfaces can be appropriately managed using digital engineering tools.

If this tool is not used, documentation for any nuclear project can become burdensome. For instance, near the end of the detailed design of a plant, even a small change in a valve or pipe would mean a high amount of paperwork so that change gets done throughout the system. Companies that have too much staff spend 50% of their time redoing documentation resulting in inefficiency.

In such cases, if digital engineering is used, any change in design will automatically be reflected throughout the system. Through Near real-time changes, the team can collaborate and access the information securely and quickly to make necessary changes to the rest of the project.

NRIC produced a digital engineering tool that would be able to serve its purpose and its collaborators. They chose dozens of commercially available systems engineering tools to require a cloud-based tool compatible with nuclear systems. Moreover, a kind of system is cost-effective, and also easy to use. Hence, they chose Innoslate (a program that is the foundation for other digital engineering efforts at INL.

NRIC uses a systems engineering methodology referred to as Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). It is a formalized modeling approach that caters as per requirements, verification, functional design, and physical design. This toolset is beneficial as it integrates system engineering toolkit and project management at one place.

Digital engineering has proved to be beneficial for several industries and their megaprojects.For instance, U.S. Air Force revealing that it was able to deliver the new stealth fighter ten years early because it took help from digital engineering. Experts anticipate that this benefit will extend to the nuclear energy industry to deliver reactors ahead of schedule and under budget.

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