Nov 29 2006
The EU's Network of Excellence NULIFE (Nuclear Plant Life Prediction) has been launched under the EURATOM FP6 Program with a clear focus on integrating safety-oriented research on materials, structures and systems and exploiting the results of this integration through the production of harmonised lifetime assessment methods.
NULIFE will help provide a better common understanding of, and information on, the factors affecting the lifetime of nuclear power plants which, together with associated management methods, will help facilitate extensions to the safe and economic lifetime of existing nuclear power plants. In addition, NULIFE will help in the development of design criteria for future generations of nuclear power plant. Led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland the five-year project has a total budget in excess of EUR 8 millions, with partners drawn from leading research institutions, technical support organisations, power companies and manufacturers throughout Europe.
Research and development to assess the service life of nuclear power plants is a multidisciplinary enterprise and must therefore take into account many factors. Lifetime assessment requires knowledge not only of the ageing of materials and components but also of factors such as load effects and reactor water chemistry and the influence of these on plant safety. Research data arising from this work has ultimately to be utilised for the development of safe and economic operation of existing nuclear power plants and the design of new units.
By providing research excellence and fostering common approaches in nuclear power plant lifetime prediction, NULIFE will contribute to the Electric Power Utilities' decision making in terms of plant operation and investments. Safety Authorities will also benefit from the knowledge in their duties to grant plant licenses for the continued operation of plants.
The core of the network comprises ten leading research institutions, technical support organisations and industrial enterprises from across Europe. These core organisations are supported by 27 associate organisations and several collaborating partners. In addition to the harmonisation of lifetime management methods, the EU funding (approximately EUR 5 millions) is specifically targeted at a process of integration between the contributing research institutions and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the network.