Ageing management: the key to long-term operation

Climate change and the continuous increase in electricity demand make nuclear energy one of the allies to combat this environmental challenge, since it is not possible to do without nuclear energy in the short term and be able to ensure the electricity supply at the same time greenhouse gas emissions requirements are met.

In this context, some countries choose to recondition and reactivate their nuclear power plants and even to start up new plants. But with the current global economic outlook, there are progressively more countries considering a long-term operating strategy (LTO) of their current nuclear infrastructure.

The long-term operation of a nuclear power plant requires the development of lines of action to reinforce the fundamental areas that guarantee a safe long-term operation, and to adapt the working methods related to aging management to the best industry practices, standards and regulations.

It is for that reason that the objectives and expectations of large producers need to be clearly aligned with a good maintenance and aging management strategy that not only allows to operate safely and demonstrate the reliability of the functions of their structures, systems and components (SSC), but also increase production capacity, reducing downtime by increasing the availability of the SSCs through cost optimization.

The following technical article set forth the implementation phase of a strategic approach of maintenance based on degradation mechanisms. It summarizes IDOM’s experience in the nuclear industry in the field of active and passive SSCs aging management, and presents the essential ingredients needed in the strategy of tackling the LTO challenge through maintaining engineering.

Aforesaid article comprises the following parts:

  • Analysis of:
    • Defined scope and limits.
    • Functions, failure modes and their consequences.
    • Applicable maintenance tasks to prevent failures.
    • Maintenance optimization and economic analysis.
  • Definition of the tasks and their effective execution frequencies, considering the existing ones, broadening them, or creating new ones only if necessary.
  • Capture and exposition of items of interest.
  • Learning and feedback from lessons and experiences of their own and others.
  • Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the maintenance strategy and introduction of integration tools.

Operational experience shows that the correct application of aging management can lead to a correction of problems, that are not evident or have been tolerated by the classic maintenance adopted in the nuclear world, and to an increase in reliability and availability, as well as a resource of value optimization.

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