The UK’s operator of nuclear power stations approached us with a problem concerning long term plant efficiency. The challenge was to improve reactor performance, maximise plant output and reduce environmental impact without comprising on safety.
Optimisation of continuous processes can present several significant challenges, with interactions between individual variables leading to complex overall plant behaviour. Our client in nuclear generation sought Ada’s advice on a process optimisation problem they had been tackling since the early days of the advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) fleet. The gradual build-up of deposits within AGR reactors can inhibit transfer of heat from fuel causing reduced efficiency and produce complications to plant operations and fuel disposal. The client needed to optimise reactor coolant chemistry in order to minimise the growth of deposits while maintaining safe and reliable operation, protecting the environment and maximising plant output.
In this highly regulated and safety critical environment, alterations to plant operation require high confidence in success.
Ada data analysts contributed to broad efforts to model and analyse historic plant operations, yielding insights into causal factors behind deposit growth. The outputs of this multivariant model allowed for targeted efforts to minimise identified risk factors.
A nuclear reactor automatically controls dozens of coolant chemistry parameters, from temperatures and flow rates, to chemical composition and dosing. Extensive analysis of this rich time-series data allowed Ada to examine over 80 reactor-years of operation and establish robust links between plant operations and deposit risk factors.
Visualisations summarising the overall findings and time-series plots demonstrating specific aspects of plant behaviour were combined with a clear overview of methods, findings, and confidence. This approach was key to communicating results to a wide range of technical, managerial and regulatory stakeholders.
Multiple data analytics and statistical techniques were used to analyse decades of data across dozens of coolant parameters
Ada identified adjustments to nuclear reactor coolant chemistry parameters which will increase safety, reduce environmental impact, maintain or increase plant output, and facilitate plant life extension. These insights can be used to optimise operations across all of the client’s AGR reactors.