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Envision a future in which nuclear power companies use intelligent decision-making support systems to estimate scenarios of system failure or revenue loss. Managing physical and social failure mechanisms, these systems would provide key importance measures on how to mitigate potential undesirable consequences.
In such a future, the nuclear industry could enter a new era void of catastrophic accidents, making nuclear energy cleaner, more profitable, and more sustainable.
The Department of Energy (DOE) Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) has awarded Assistant Professor Zahra Mohaghegh and her research team, the Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Laboratory, a three-year, $800,000 grant to pursue this vision.
Entitled “Systematic Enterprise Risk Management by Integrating the RISMC Toolkit and Cost-Benefit Analysis,” the project will promote U.S. nuclear fleet sustainability by developing a systematic scenario-based Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) technology. The SoTeRiA group’s undertaking will satisfy short- and long-term regulatory design standards, improve safety, create cost savings and avoid production losses.
In this project, Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA), integrated with the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Risk-Informed Safety Margin Characterization (RISMC) Toolkit, will be used to quantify uncertainty nodes. The SoTeRiA team will work with INL risk experts to conduct a first-of-its-kind physics-social hybrid framework for quantifying long-term nuclear power plant enterprise risk scenarios.
As the Principal Investigator (PI) of this project, Mohaghegh will work with collaborators from the College of Law at Illinois, the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company (STPNOC), ABS Consulting, and Texas A&M University. The project continues a line of research called “Monetary Value of PRA” that the PI, in collaboration with Co-PIs Arden Rowell, professor of Law at Illinois, and NPRE scientist Ernie Kee, began for analyzing the business value of risk-informed decision making for nuclear power plants and other complex systems.
Building a risk analysis ecosystem at Illinois, the SoTeRiA Laboratory has initiated projects in several other areas of PRA to meet demands faced by industry, including:
- Fire PRA
- Location-specific Loss-Of-Coolant Accident (LOCA frequency esstimations
- Risk-informed emergency preparedness, planning and response modeling for severe accidents
- Global risk importance measures
- Modeling the effects of human and organizational influences on technical systems failure
- Estimating the monetary value of PRA
- Risk-informed resolution of Generic Safety Issue 191, a long-standing issue for commercial nuclear power plants and the NRC.