TVA Browns Ferry Team Wins Top Industry Award
May 13, 2011
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Valley Authority employees at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant have been honored by the Nuclear Energy Institute for co-developing a monitoring system to improve nuclear fuel rod performance.
The TVA team won the institute's B. Ralph Sylvia "Best of the Best" Top Industry Practice award, the industry group's top honor.
Five years ago, the industry set a goal to eliminate defects in fuel rods that hold the uranium pellets that power a reactor, with the aim of improving plant efficiency, lowering costs and reducing plant repairs.
Working with Areva, the France-based nuclear power firm with U.S. headquarters in Bethesda, Md., the TVA team tested a new software system that allows real-time, online stress calculations for every 6-inch fuel rod segment in the reactor.
There are 91 rods in each Browns Ferry fuel assembly, and about 750 assemblies inside each of Browns Ferry's three reactors. Inside the rods, the uranium fuel pellets are in sealed metal tubes known as cladding.
"For the first time, this new technology allows the reactor engineers to plan and execute reactor power maneuvers with an explicit understanding of the stresses imposed on the fuel rod cladding," said Jim Lemons, TVA senior manager, Reactor Engineering and Fuels. "This knowledge enhances our ability to improve fuel performance while simultaneously maximizing power generation."
NEI said this is the first method that can calculate how close fuel rods are to cladding damage, thus ensuring fuel integrity performance.
The TVA team members are: Lemons; Rod De La Garza, Browns Ferry reactor engineer; Mike Keck, Browns Ferry manager of Reactor Engineering; David Marsh, Browns Ferry reactor engineer; and Greg Storey, manager of Boiling Water Reactor Fuel Engineering.
The Top Industry Practice award, presented Tuesday at NEI's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., honors the late B. Ralph Sylvia, an industry leader who was instrumental in starting the awards in 1993. More information is available at www.nei.org.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia – an area of 80,000 square miles with a population of 9 million. TVA operates 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired power plants, three nuclear plants and 11 natural gas-fired power facilities that can produce about 34,000 megawatts of electricity, delivered over 16,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. TVA also provides flood control, navigation, land management and recreation for the Tennessee River system and works with local utilities and state and local governments to promote economic development across the region. TVA, which makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money, is funded by sales of electricity to its customers. Electricity prices in TVA's service territory are below the national average.
Mike Bradley, Knoxville (865)632-8860
TVA Media Relations, Knoxville, (865) 632-6000