Advanced Manufacturing of Nuclear Components

Updated Sunday, 4 September 2022

Accelerating the harmonized development of codes and standards

Cooperation on Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing Mechanical Codes and Standards Task Force

Published September 2022

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Advanced manufacturing techniques are of great interest to the nuclear industry as they enable the realization of complex designs, whilst improving the quality and safety of components and reducing the time and cost involvedin their manufacture. These techniques have seen rapid development and deployment in many industries but their applications to nuclear power are still at an early stage. Such applications include the repair of equipment or replacement of parts in existing plants, the procurement of new components or manufacture of integral products. These may have nuclear safety functions and may form integral parts of the reactor pressure vessel, notably for small modular reactor (SMR) projects.

The interest in nuclear applications of advanced manufacturing was confirmed by a survey of members of the World Nuclear Association’s Cooperation in Reactor Design Evaluation and Licensing (CORDEL) Working Group. National regulators such as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, UK Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, as well as other international organizations, have also shown interest in the topic and are aiming to set requirements and guidelines to review the emerging applications of the technologies to the nuclear industry. Standards developing organizations (SDOs) are launching committees to prepare standards supporting these manufacturing techniques (e.g., the ASME Subgroup on Materials, Fabrication and Examination).

However, challenges remain in demonstrating the quality and reliability of materials produced through advanced manufacturing techniques under both normal and accident conditions. Qualification methodologies are being developed to overcome these issues and enable the codification of advanced manufacturing techniques. The development of these codes and standards in a harmonized manner is essential for factory-based international deployment of SMRs.

CORDEL’s Mechanical Codes and Standards Task Force (MCSTF) therefore proposes that more efforts and resources should be put into collaborative projects that aim to develop and advance new proposals for advanced manufacturing techniques to code development committees. This will accelerate their development and enable codification to support reactor deployment schedules. More standards developing organizations should adjust their approach to codification, as AFCEN have done, to promote innovation. The nuclear industry also should engage early with regulators and work alongside them to develop common approaches to the regulation of advanced manufacturing techniques and their use within the nuclear supply chain.