National laboratory Oak ridge, U.S. Department of energy completes the design of a prototype active zone of a new nuclear reactor. It is created in the framework of the Transformational Challenge Reactor (TCR) and differs primarily by the method of manufacture. For the first time in the history of large parts of the reactor are going to grow by 3D printing.

In the US there is an impasse with the upgrade of reactors – more than half of the 98 existing units overage by the end of this decade. At the same time, over the last 20 years was built in just one new reactor, and the technology and procedures for the admission and run hopelessly outdated. Suffice it to say that previously each unit was built on an individual project, with many expensive one-off designs, and all the way from the beginning of the robot before the first profits from the unit were delayed for a dozen years.

Today’s reality requires a different, faster pace of work, so the choice fell on 3D printing. On the one hand, three-dimensional printing using new materials can create the same the active zone, with all integrated systems and sensors in about three months. Another industry in need of new reactors and in laboratory Oak ridge, just busy with the development of such systems, which were originally intended for the construction method of three-dimensional printing.

The development is in full swing, the demonstration of the prototype reactor TCR scheduled until 2023. Now comes the design the most difficult part – the active zone, which is subjected to maximum loads. The design of its prototype is constantly being improved, and this month attracted to the works of artificial intelligence for rapid virtual testing of new nodes. If the technology is justified, it will be a revolution in nuclear energy.

Source — ORNL