NC State’s nuclear engineering & X-energy awarded ARPA-E GEMINA

Congratulations to principal investigator (PI) Dr. Maria Avramova, co-PIs Dr. Mihai Diaconeasa & Dr. Jason Hou and  X-energy on receiving an ARPA-E GEMINA program award. This $6 million award will develop “Advanced Operation & Maintenance Techniques Implemented in the Xe-100 Plant Digital Twin to Reduce Fixed O&M Cost.”

X-energy’s digital twin project aims to reduce the fixed operations and management (O&M) cost of its advanced nuclear reactor design to $2 per MWh. The project will use human factors engineering, probability risk assessment, hazard analysis, and security and maintenance evaluations to identify areas for optimization. The X-Energy-led team will develop innovative ways to leverage advanced technologies – including automation, robotics, remote and centralized maintenance, and monitoring — to optimize staffing plans while ensuring optimal plant operation. There will be a development of two modeling frameworks to evaluate and validate these solutions. X-Energy’s Immersive Environment Toolset is a multi-disciplinary 3D model that, when combined with virtual reality, will test techniques that optimize maintenance and security. The digital twin framework synthesizes information from the operating plant and assimilates data from across the fleet to provide a holistic understanding of the asset.

Dr. Avramova is an associate professor of nuclear engineering & director of the Consortium for Nuclear Power (CNP). Her research areas include reactor thermal hydraulics; core design; transient and safety analysis; multi-physics and multi-scale simulations; verification and validation; and uncertainty and sensitivity analysis.

Dr. Diaconeasa is an assistant professor of nuclear engineering and his research focus includes theories, applications, and simulation-based techniques in risk sciences such as traditional and dynamic probabilistic risk assessment, reliability analysis, resilient systems design, probabilistic physics of failure modeling, and Bayesian inference.

Dr. Hou is an assistant professor of nuclear engineering & director of the Reactor Dynamics and Fuel Modeling Group (RDFMG). His research focuses on multi-physics reactor simulation, advanced reactors, core design optimization, fuel cycle analysis, uncertainty quantification, and plant simulator. He also serves as the coordinator of the Nuclear Simulation Laboratory.

Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) aims to develop digital twin technology for advanced nuclear reactors and transform operations and maintenance (O&M) systems in the next generation of nuclear power plants. ARPA-E funds interdisciplinary teams to develop digital twins, or a similar technology, for an advanced reactor design as the foundation of their O&M strategy. Performers design tools that introduce greater flexibility in reactor systems, increased autonomy in operations, and faster design iteration.