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Les pôles de compétitivité

Nuclear Valley’s areas of activity

Nuclear Valley has defined 4 Strategic Business Activities (SBA) which are:

  • SBA n°1 : Eco-friendly production and sustainable development of nuclear components
  • SBA n°2 : Inspection of high-performance components
  • SBA n°3 : Maintenance and dismantling in hostile environments
  • SBA n°4 : Concrete, Civil Engineering & Sensitive buildings

SBA n°1: Eco-friendly production and sustainable development of nuclear components

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:

  • Materials and their production: modelling laws of behaviour, mechanical behaviour of materials, new materials, understanding coupled phenomena and their modelling by scale variation,
  • Production processes: process modelling as part of the development of manufacturing procedures, effect of production processes on the mechanical and physical properties of the materials (surface condition, corrosion resistance, ageing), assembly  processes (welding etc.), industrial automation and optimisation; reduction of production costs and duration of the production cycle
  • Durability of components: durability of components and resistance to ageing of materials used in reactors, structural calculations (wear, friction, vibration, shocks etc.), environmental impact.

SBA n°2 : Inspection of high-performance components 

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.

SBA n°3: Maintenance and dismantling in hostile environments

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:

  • Nuclear engineering
  • Management of radioactive materials and robotics
  • Nuclear measurement
  • Operating procedures

SBA n°4: Concrete, Civil Engineering & Sensitive buildings

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:

  • Materials and methods of implementation: New materials (properties, characterization) – Innovative materials and equipment
  • Behaviour in hostile environments (ageing, corrosion, service life) : Materials -Structures
  • Simulation of concrete and structures: calculation codes
  • Inspection of concrete by NDT techniques: procedures and on-site implementation
  • Dismantling, remediation, recycling of concrete
  • Engineering of concrete structures (new constructions and existing sites) – Codes & Standards – Management of safety-related buildings – ‘As built’ Protocols