6.0 Technology Transfer
Speaker: Rich Denning; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
The term technology transfer refers not just to the delivery of equipment but to the passing on of knowledge, processes, and methods. In work to improve the safety of Soviet-designed nuclear power plants, the goals of technology transfer are to
The Strategy Document in Appendix E identifies the vision, goals, and end points for the U.S. Department of Energy's cooperative nuclear safety work. Technology transfer has a major role in the rationale underlying this vision in terms of bringing this work to a conclusion. It is clear that U.S. financial resources, even when augmented by those of other countries, are insufficient to improve safety at all Soviet-designed nuclear power plants to a level consistent with international standards. Therefore, in many areas we have taken a pilot plant approach, in which the United States provides hardware to a few of the plants in conjunction with complementary technology transfer. In this way, the pilot plants receive the most urgently needed equipment and tools to reduce immediate risks. At the same time, plant personnel, government organizations, and private companies in the host countries acquire the skills and capabilities to sustain these system upgrades at the pilot plants and extend these upgrades to other plants.
At the May 1996 Contractor Information Exchange meeting, an ad hoc working group was established to look at ways to improve technology transfer. That group developed a "white paper" on technology transfer mechanisms, from least to most structured approaches:
At the quarterly program meeting in July 1996, the technology integrators were asked to evaluate technology transfer in their specific areas, using the white paper as a stimulus for that review. The technology integrators then identified specific areas requiring enhancement to optimize technology transfer.
The result of that review is summarized in a revised draft white paper, Enhancing Technology Transfer in DOE's International Reactor Safety Projects. The paper, included in Appendix D of this report, should be viewed as a status of, rather than a program plan for, technology transfer.
Most of the other technology areas, such as training, embody technology transfer as a fundamental aspect of the approach to the work. Nevertheless, the area of systems upgrades is worthy of particular scrutiny. Work in this area is aimed at providing improved equipment and capabilities for fire protection, radiation confinement, emergency power and water, and other key safety systems. However, it is particularly important to provide not just hardware, but the capabilities and technology to enable the host country representatives to design, manufacture, and maintain safety systems over the long term.
6.1 Technology Transfer Initiatives
Technology transfer initiatives are highlighted here for four specific areas: direct-current (dc) power supplies, instrumentation and control modules, circuit breakers, and valves.
Direct-current power supply systems provide reliable power for emergency shutdown at nuclear power plants. Burns & Roe has provided upgrades to dc power supplies for two Russian nuclear power plants: Kola Units 1 and 2 and Kursk Unit 2. Burns & Roe also will be supplying an improved dc power supply at Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant. This work involves providing support to the plants in separating safety and nonsafety electrical loads and in sizing and designing dc power supply systems. A paper presented at the 1996 Nuclear Science Symposium and Medical Imaging Conference of the IEEE, "Safety System Augmentation at Russian Nuclear Power Plants,"describes this work (Appendix D).
The plants at Ignalina fit into the first step of technology transfer. If the appropriate arrangements can be made with the American battery manufacturer, a Russian manufacturer will be brought to the United States while the Ignalina batteries are being produced, to observe the manufacturing process.
In June 1997, U.S. participants will host a dc power supply workshop in Moscow. Personnel from Russian nuclear power plants will be invited. The purposes of the meeting are to 1) share information about the value and process of upgrading dc power supplies and 2) determine the status of dc power supply systems at nuclear power plants to better understand the support required. Burns & Roe specialists will lead the workshop, using the work done at Kola and Kursk as a foundation.
To continue upgrading and maintaining dc power supplies after U.S. support ends, the host countries must have the capabilities to design, manufacture, and maintain associated equipment. Burns & Roe specialists are working with dc power supply manufacturers in Russia and the United States to determine the best methods for transferring this technology to Russia.
Aging instruments for process control at the Ignalina plant are failing at increasing rates and cannot be relied on to perform their safety functions. At Ignalina, new instrument modules were not available for replacement; operators were forced to scavenge parts from previously failed instrument systems. The U.S.-based company Scientech will provide the first set of 100 replacement modules, which will meet modern technical requirements and have the same form, fit, and function as those currently in place. To develop Lithuania's capabilities, Scientech will transfer the technology to a manufacturing company in Lithuania. That company, EMC, will manufacture 200 more modules for Ignalina. With that manufacturing capability in place, the Lithuanian company can serve as a future resource for Ignalina and perhaps for other nuclear power plants as well. In March 1997, U.S. specialists will train EMC staff in quality assurance so that they can ensure that the modules provided by EMC meet operational requirements.
The Russian nuclear utility organization Rosenergoatom surveyed Russian nuclear plant personnel in 1996 to identify key safety problems. Several plants identified a serious problem with 6-kV and 400-V circuit breakers. Not only did they not operate as designed, but they also caused fires on occasion. In January 1997, U.S. specialists from Bechtel met with companies in the Moscow area to discuss ways to develop an in-country capability for circuit breaker manufacturing for Russian plants. In the next phase of this activity, Rosenergoatom will develop performance specifications for 6-kV and 400-V breakers. Bechtel will then hold discussions with Western circuit breaker manufacturers to determine their interest in participating in a transfer of technology.
Valves perform a variety of safety functions in nuclear plants including pressure relief, actuation of emergency core cooling flow, and confinement isolation. Burns & Roe has the lead on a technology transfer activity aimed at improved valve monitoring and performance at host country nuclear power plants. To begin, Rosenergoatom is collecting data on valve performance to determine those areas in which technology transfer might be effective in improving plant safety.
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