|Mr. Andrew Drake, Director, AP1000™ Engineering Completion Project|
Ted Carney – INCOSE Chesapeake Chapter Staff Writer
INCOSE Chesapeake’s monthly event for September featured a talk on a hot topic in engineering and drew another lively crowd, as an audience of over 50 members of the engineering community witnessed a presentation on the AP-1000 Nuclear Reactor, delivered by Andrew Drake of Westinghouse. Mr. Drake gave a brief account of historical trends in reactor design, elaborated on the key discriminators present in the AP-1000, and all the while answered questions from several audience members.
Mr. Drake described the divergence of evolutionary designs from the passive safety designs that have led to Generation IV reactors like the AP-1000. Incorporating enablers for easy operation and maintenance, in addition to safety factors, can mitigate risks associated with operator confusion – risks that have proven costly before in cases like 3-Mile Island. Key differentiators for the AP-1000 that bring its core damage frequency to the microscopic 1×10-7 include the reduction of components in bulk commodities, modular construction, and a proven and improved reactor-coolant system. The two-loop system features simplified safety design, and also uses natural processes to its advantage during operation. Drake quipped that verifying the utility of natural processes was essentially akin to “proving that gravity works.”
The crowd was engaged throughout Mr. Drake’s talk, and questions covered a variety of topics relevant to nuclear reactor design. Society’s energy future clearly presents a complex challenge to the engineering community. If you’re seeking more information or would like to get involved, check out the Chesapeake Chapter’s Future of Energy Initiative (FoE)