Innovation in nuclear decommissioning

Last time, we discussed about high level considerations to have when decommissioning of a nuclear fleet: D&D programme / strategy, radiological initial state characterisation and stakeholder involvement. 

Today, let’s talk about innovation in the decommissioning space. DEM2021, the international conference on decommissioning organised by SFEN, will deep dive on this topic and offer three detailed sessions.

Eadon nuclear innovation
Source: FIS360

Nuclear decommissioning is a rather new topic for the general public. However, it has been going on for decades in the world. For instance, in France, EDF shut down its graphite-gas reactors 30 years ago, without mentioning CEA that has been closing labs, small-scale reactors even before and successfully dismantled them. All in all, due to its historical choices, France has, over the years, gained a great deal of insights when it comes to decommissioning and most certainly innovative approaches.

Many innovations in the decommissioning space arise through technical challenges. In one part of the world, a challenge was faced, and a specific solution was developed. Through learning from experience, other sites in other countries facing the same issues (e.g.,  irradiated graphite) could learn from their feedback. In addition to knowledge management for a specific site or operator, learning and sharing experience with international players is essential to reduce costs and save time in decommissioning projects. Eric Gouhier, an international expert from CEA, set up a specific session on Project Feedback Experience to give to the DEM21 audience some key insights on this topic.

Being able to share these experiences (apart from regularly keeping an eye on inTechBrew), the development of new techniques, processes or work behaviour is achieved through international cooperation as we just said. To foster this cooperation and open some doors on what is happening in the various decommissioning sites, conferences are very special moments where experts can share their knowledge. But also present upcoming technical challenges. To present the impact of innovation in the D&D sector, Michel Pieraccini from Edf and Jean-Luc Fournié from Framatome are taking the lead in organising a dedicated session on Development of New D&Ds’ Technologies.

VR nuclear
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

How can we talk about innovation in the decommissioning world without talking about digitalisation? Digitalisation is pretty much everywhere these days: GNSS, BIM, paperwork digitalisation, AI, ML, etc.

Using the right digitalisation tools can bring considerable money saving. One of the technologies that we published saved considerable time to a large decommissioning site Europe. Previously, operators had to manually inspect thousands of waste cans to identify those that were damaged. They would spend days watching recordings to identify scratch or leaking liquids. One supplier developed a software analysing all the recording an identifying automatically which cans would be damaged. In that instance, only one operating would be required, just to validate what the AI found. 

Is digitalisation the next best thing ? That’s what the hundreds of examples where digitalisation had a positive impact on nuclear decommissioning seems to say. Jean-Christophe Casteigts and Cyril Moitrier, in charge of processes and digitalisation at EDF and CEA will help you make up your own mind by organising a specific session on Digital Contribution to Dismantling Operations.

I guess by now, you all know how much we love innovation at inTechBrew After giving some hints on what will be discussed during DEM2021, you can imagine how excited we are at attending this conference. So, don’t miss out ! Join us from September the 13th to the 15th in Avignon to discover the fascinating topic of innovation in the D&D sector.


Independent associate focussed on business analysis and development in the nuclear industry. CEO, Master Brewer at inTechBrew

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