Improving Nuclear Power Competitiveness in a Deregulated Energy Market

Tomasz Kozlowski, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Travis Mui and Daniel O'Grady, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The proposed project targets high-fidelity multi-physics numerical simulation of nuclear reactor performance during load-follow operating conditions. A load-following power plant is a power plant that adjusts its power output as demand for electricity changes throughout the day. Load-follow operation allows a nuclear power plant to vary its power level by the hour, improving its competitiveness in a deregulated energy market and increasing its compatibility with renewable energy sources which vary considerably in power output. Ensuring safe reactor operation requires complex multi-dimensional and multi-physics models with highly resolved, three-dimensional geometry of the reactor and nuclear fuel. A high-fidelity multi-physics simulation of the reactor physics, thermal-hydraulics, fuel performance and structural mechanics, will be used to provide a holistic approach to nuclear fuel simulation. The time-dependent fuel behavior will be analyzed to ensure reactor safety and fuel integrity when reactor is operated in load-follow mode. The results of this research will allow nuclear power plants to optimize power maneuvers—power output reductions and increases—as required by the local energy market conditions.

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