Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program

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Aerial view of a nuclear power plant.

The Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program conducts research to develop technologies and other solutions to improve the economics and reliability, sustain the safety, and extend the operation of our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants.  It has two objectives with respect to long-term operations: (1) to provide science and technology-based solutions to industry to overcome the current labor-intensive business model and associated practices; and (2) to manage the aging of systems, structures, and components (SSCs) so nuclear power plants can continue to operate safely and cost effectively.

The Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program is focused on the following three goals:

  1. Developing the fundamental scientific basis to understand, predict, and measure changes in materials and SSCs as they age in environments associated with continued long-term operations of existing nuclear power plants.
  2. Applying this fundamental knowledge to develop and demonstrate methods and technologies that support the safe and economical long-term operation of existing nuclear power plants.
  3. Researching new technologies to address enhanced nuclear power plant performance, economics, and safety.

Nuclear power has reliably and economically contributed approximately 20 percent of electrical generation in the United States over the past two decades. It remains the single largest contributor (roughly 60 percent) of non-greenhouse-gas-emitting electric power generation in the United States. Domestic demand for electrical energy is expected to grow at an average rate of 1 percent per year. If currently operating nuclear power plants shutdown prematurely, the total fraction of generated electrical energy from nuclear power will begin to decline – even with the expected addition of new nuclear generating capacity. 

Recently, several utilities have submitted or announced plans to submit applications to the NRC to begin the subsequent license renewal process extending the operating license period beyond 60 years from the date of their initial licensing. This marks an important planned milestone in the history of commercial nuclear power operations in the U.S.—one that underscores the long-term dependability of these plant designs and the commitment to their long-term performance by the organizations that operate them. 

To continue to address the key issues of the domestic fleet, the LWRS Program consists of the following primary technical areas of research and development (R&D):

Related Documents

LWRS Program and EPRI Long-Term Operations Program - Joint R&D Plan
To address the challenges associated with pursuing commercial nuclear power plant operations beyond 60 years, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DO...
April 30, 2015
Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program - Integrated Program Plan
The Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program is a research and development (R&D) program sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE)...
April 30, 2015
LWRS Program and EPRI Long-Term Operations Program - Joint R&D Plan

To address the challenges associated with pursuing commercial nuclear power plant operations beyond 60 years, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)...

April 30, 2013
Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program - Integrated Program Plan

The Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program is a research and development (R&D) program sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy ...

April 30, 2013

Materials Research: R&D to develop the scientific basis for understanding and predicting long-term environmental degradation behavior of materials in nuclear power plants. The R&D products will be used to define operational limits and aging mitigation approaches for materials in nuclear power plant SSCs subject to long-term operating conditions, providing key input to both regulators and industry.

Plant Modernization: R&D to address nuclear power plant economic viability in current and future energy markets through innovation, efficiency gains, and business model transformation through digital technologies. The R&D products will enable modernization of plant systems and processes while building a technology-centric business model platform that supports improved performance at a lower cost.

Risk-Informed Systems Analysis (RISA): R&D to support decision-making related to economics, reliability, and safety by providing integrated plant systems analysis solutions to enhance economic competitiveness of the operating fleet. The R&D products in this area will be used to optimize plant economic performance and safety by incorporating plant impacts, physical aging, and degradation processes.

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