A new European Commission-supported project to advance the assessment of safety performance of critical concrete infrastructure in nuclear power plants began in September and runs until Aug. 31, 2024. According to Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre, the project aims to clarify, enhance and unify methods of structural integrity assessment in support of long-term operation.

The project involves a consortium of 10 European companies and research partners, as well as one international partner, including CEA (France), CTU (Czech Republic), CVR (Czech Republic), EDF (France), ENERGORISK (Ukraine), ENGIE LAB (Belgium), IRSN (France), SCK•CEN (Belgium), ZAG (Slovenia) and the U.S.’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The project named ACES, with a budget of $6 million, aims to have an impact on operations of Gen II and III nuclear power plants, as well as on the design of next-generation plants. It is intended to improve the understanding of ageing and deterioration of concrete, and will demonstrate and quantify inherent safety margins introduced by the conservative approaches used during design and defined by codes and standards employed throughout the life of the plant, according to VTT.

ACES hopes to give operators and regulators an improved understanding of the concrete, including:

  • A critical review of aging management practice across EU NPP 
 focusing on deterioration and aging mechanisms of reinforced 
 concrete, linked to decision-based assessment criteria
    Improved understanding of corrosion phenomena focusing 
 on embedded liners, predicting the occurrence of corrosion 
 and developing an innovative inspection tool for early detection 
 of corrosion
    Improved assessment of the effects of prolonged irradiation of 
 the concrete biological shield using a holistic approach 
 combining operating conditions, materials degradation and 
 structural significance