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Mechanical Engineering. 2014;136(05):30-35. doi:10.1115/1.2014-May-1.
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This article highlights the efforts that need to be put in order to maintain and build nuclear power plants to ensure a reliable source of electric generation. With increasing carbon restrictions and the growing demand for electricity, reliable, carbon-free baseload electricity generation is more important than ever for the United States. The pertinent ASME Section XI Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code requirements were modified to support license renewal. Similar steps, plus the development of new solutions for emerging aging issues, will need to be applied for second license renewals, extending the operating life of these reactors to 80 years. Industry resources must commit to demonstrate the necessary understanding of any significant changes in aging issues beyond 60 years. It is important that industry bodies, such as the Electric Power Research Institute and utility owner’s groups, and suppliers – along with the individual utilities and plants that are the leading candidates for operation beyond 60 years – collectively assure themselves and the U.S. NRC that the pertinent aging issues are identified and appropriate aging management methods are defined or created.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2014;136(05):36-41. doi:10.1115/1.2014-May-2.
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This article elaborates the evolution of code and standards for nuclear power plants. In the 1950s, need was felt for a revised set of design and fabrication rules to facilitate the development of safe, economically competitive water-cooled reactors contained in pressure vessels. These rules were codified in the first edition of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section III, which was completed in 1963 and published in 1964. From the outset, both regulators and industry realized that the best way to develop many of the needed rules for the design, construction, and operation of nuclear facilities was the national standards consensus process. This process, followed by the American National Standards Institute and other recognized standards-issuing bodies such as ASME, brings together the expertise of individuals from government, industry, academia, and other stakeholders. In the years following the first publication of Section III, the coverage of the Code expanded to incorporate piping requirements, pressure-retaining components for pumps and valves, equipment and piping supports, reactor vessel internal structures, and other features of nuclear power plants.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2014;136(05):42-45. doi:10.1115/1.2014-May-3.
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This article discusses why it is essential to develop new codes and standards for nuclear power industry. The reason for developing new codes for nuclear power sector is simple to understand. It has to do with the fundamental purpose of all standards: Standards exist to serve not only all the stakeholders in an industry – manufacturers, regulators, insurers, operators of equipment, but also the members of the general public who happen to be in the neighborhood. Standards support prosperity and, more important than that, they maintain public safety. Presently, different committees are working on the next generation of their standards in the nuclear power sector. They are incorporating recent experience and integrating new technologies, from materials to theoretical tools. The ASME/ANS Nuclear Risk Management Committee is currently expanding the scope of the standard to cover risk at shutdown and include long-term maintenance of containment and releases to the public after an accident. In addition, requirements for advanced reactors and the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident are under development.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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