Skip to main content

Shift in Clinton Plant Refueling Cycle Increases Efficiency

NEI’s Top Industry Practice Awards recognize innovation in the nuclear energy industry. Presented at NEI’s annual conference, the awards honor accomplishments that help the industry improve safety, streamline processes and increase efficiency.

In a special series of articles this week, our publication Nuclear Energy Overview highlights the challenges and successes of five winners.


Eight-time TIP Award winner Jim Tusar is no stranger to ambitious projects. His most recent, which earned this year’s GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Award, is no exception.

The industry standard is to schedule refueling and maintenance outages once every 18 months or two years, but Tusar and his team at Exelon Nuclear pioneered an annual outage schedule at the Clinton Power Station in Illinois.

“The idea came from acknowledging the value of [the facility] was decreasing due to the fact we had such high fuel costs, and at the same time power prices were decreasing,” said Tusar, Exelon Nuclear’s manager of nuclear fuels. “We knew that we had to do something to improve the asset value of Clinton, and the main thing to attack would be the fuel, because we can’t control the electricity prices.”


More than 40 percent of the reactor’s fuel needed to be replaced every two years.

“It’s not efficient. You’re not utilizing fuel well in that scenario,” Tusar said.

The Exelon team conducted studies with their fuel vendor, Global Nuclear Fuel, and found that an annual outage cycle would cut costs significantly.

The new schedule will alternate the typical refueling and maintenance outage with a short (13-day) outage dedicated to refueling only. The refuel-only outage is achievable because of a new core design strategy that minimizes the number of fuel moves, leaving some fuel assemblies in the same location from one cycle to the next.

The team also needed to determine the best time of year to schedule the annual outage.
Exelon owns and operates 16 other reactors, so “we don’t want to overlap with any other outages. It’s a resource concern,” Tusar said. Nor did the company want to schedule an outage for summer, when power demands are highest and replacement power is costly.

The path to an annual fuel cycle is still unfolding. Clinton will begin a transitional 18-month fuel cycle this October, which will lead to a May 2015 start date for the first annual outage cycle.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…