The Incefa-Scale programme (INcreasing safety in nuclear power plants by Covering gaps in Environmental Fatigue Assessment) aims to reduce uncertainties about how critical components will perform when subjected to the harsh conditions inside operational nuclear power reactors.
Jacobs said the EU is providing most of the funding for the five-year, $8.1m programme, which is a continuation of the previous Incefa-Plus programme, where Jacobs has led a 16-member European consortium since 2013.
Although components and materials are extensively tested in laboratories, there are sometimes gaps in understanding the correlation between these tests and actual performance. This can lead to fatigue assessment parameters being set more conservatively than necessary.
The research will fill in those gaps by means of extensive data mining in international fatigue databases and detailed examination of test specimens to improve mechanistic understanding. Greater certainty about component performance will avoid unnecessary closures of nuclear power plants when they are still economically viable and safe to operate.
Jacobs, operator of the UK’s largest independent nuclear laboratory complex in Warrington, northern England, will contribute to multiaxial, thermo-mechanical and complex waveform testing to provide greater insight into the stresses and strains placed on components. This work will complement component scale tests being carried out in the US by the Electric Power Research Institute, in collaboration with Incefa-Scale.