Nuclear Valley has defined 4 Strategic Business Activities (SBA) which are:
SBA 1 concerns the production of components for the nuclear sector, production which is governed by construction codes which meet demanding safety and security standards. The principal targeted markets concern production destined for in-service power plants for the replacement of specific components (Generation 2 and 3 reactors) as well as new power plants (PWR). In the long term, SBA 1 also concerns the construction of new power plants with small reactors based on PWR technology (Flexblue, ATMEA etc.), Generation 4 reactors (around 2020) and ITER (around 2030).
The research priorities for SBA N°1 concern:
More than ever, safety is a priority for the nuclear industry. The safety requirement involves the implementation of inspection and testing at different levels. In production, the objective of the inspections is to guarantee the level of quality required for nuclear components. In operation, they allow the verification of component integrity and confirmation of performance level over time.
To meet the ever increasing levels of safety requirements, the inspection methods implemented must continuously evolve to become more and more reliable (more precise, more reliable, quicker etc.).
SBA n°2 concerns all forms of inspection (dimensional measurements, Non Destructive Tests for defects, characterization of materials) which guarantee the quality and integrity of high performance nuclear components.
The main issues dealt with by SBA n°3, whatever the type of reactor concerned, are as follows: the high level of required reliability, the obligation to carry out almost all maintenance during shutdown for refuelling (even though many systems must remain on-line), the risk of irradiation and contamination, stringent requirements concerning quality, permanent monitoring by safety authorities.
To meet these challenges, the 4 main areas of R&D under SBA 3 are:
Civil engineering design, and its impact on the construction schedules of nuclear installations, is becoming more and more important. The new safety standards raise questions about (i) the development of concrete and calculation methods, (ii) building management systems.
The ageing of concrete and structures as well as the increase in plant life will also be major issues in the future. This leads to fundamental changes to the design of structures, methods for the construction and repair (implementation, or ‘to be implemented’) of structures and engineering in general concerning operation of the power plants.
The main areas of innovation for SBA N°4 are: