Exploring Advanced Computational Tools and Techniques with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Operating Nuclear Plants (NUREG/CR-7294, INL/EXT-21-61117)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: September 2021
Date Published: February 2022

Prepared by:
Z. Ma1
H. Bao1
S. Zhang1
M. Xian2
A. Mack1
1Idaho National Laboratory
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415
2University of Idaho, Idaho Falls
Idaho Falls, ID 83402

John Lane, NRC Project Manager

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555

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This report presents the project Idaho National Laboratory conducted for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to explore the advanced computational tools and techniques, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), for operating nuclear plants. The report reviews the nuclear data sources, with the focus on operating experience data, that could be applied by advanced computational tools and techniques. Plant-specific and generic (national and international) data from different sources are described. The report describes the relationships between statistics and AI/ML and then introduces the most widely used AI/ML algorithms in both supervised and unsupervised learning. The report reviews the recent applications of advanced computational tools and techniques in various fields of nuclear industry, such as reactor system design and analysis, plant operation and maintenance, and nuclear safety and risk analysis. The report presents the insights from the project on the potential applicability of AI/ML techniques in improving advanced computational capabilities, how the advanced tools and techniques could contribute to the understanding of safety and risk, and what information would be needed to provide meaningful insights to decision makers.

The report also documents an NRC survey on the current state of commercial nuclear power operations relative to the use of AI and ML tools as well as the role of AI/ML tools in nuclear power operations, which was published by the NRC as in the Federal Register Notice NRC-2021-0048 in April 2021. A summary of the survey, including the survey questions, survey participants, survey responses, and the conclusions and insights derived from the survey, is provided in the report.

Finally, the report investigates potential applications of using AI/ML in operating nuclear power plants and advanced reactors (both advanced light-water reactors and advanced non-light-water reactors) to improve nuclear plant safety and efficiency. Three main application fields are considered: plant safety and security assessments; plant degradation modeling, fault and accident diagnosis and prognosis; and plant operation and maintenance efficiency improvement.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, February 22, 2022