Launch of SMILE plant ageing management project

29 January 2021

A virtual meeting was held on 13-14 January to launch the new Studsvik Material Integrity Life Extension (SMILE) project. The five-year project, supported by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), aims to investigate and improve the understanding of materials ageing and degradation in metallic components during the operation of a nuclear power plant.

(Image: Studsvik)

The meeting had 60 participants from organisations in eight countries (Belgium, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA). Pål Efsing of Swedish utility Vattenfall, chaired the programme review meeting and Robert Tregoning of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chaired the management board meeting.

The SMILE project will support light water reactor operators and authorities worldwide in plant ageing management. Project participants include nuclear regulators, technical support organisations and research organisations, as well as organisations from the nuclear industry.

As the operating agent of the SMILE project, Studsvik AB of Sweden will investigate the materials and components harvested from four reactors at the Oskarshamn and Ringhals nuclear power plants that are currently being decommissioned after around 40 years of operation.

The objective of SMILE is to provide critical data and mechanistic understanding of materials ageing in support of plant ageing management, life extension programmes and operating licence renewals.

The NEA said the project will provide "new insights into the behaviour of materials and modification of materials properties after exposure to realistic boiling water reactor and pressurised water reactor operating conditions over several decades. The findings of the project will further advance the prediction of materials behaviour under nuclear power plant operating conditions and will also contribute to safety reviews of nuclear reactors."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News