Digital Twin-Based Asset Performance and Reliability Diagnosis for the HTGR Reactor Cavity Cooling System Using Metroscope

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Lynchburg, Virginia
Project Term:
10/01/2020 - 06/30/2025

Critical Need:

Although nuclear power is one pathway to achieving a zero-carbon grid, nuclear power plants are comparatively cost-intensive in some markets. Many industries are employing AI, advanced data analytics, distributed computing, powerful physics simulation tools, and other breakthroughs to advance autonomous, efficient, and low-cost O&M in their processes. O&M is approximately 80% of a reactor’s total generating cost. The nuclear energy industry has not fully explored these innovations, necessitating new designs of effective and low-cost advanced reactor O&M procedures. Knowledge gained from innovating now can lay the groundwork for optimal O&M. GEMINA sets the stage for advanced reactors to operate with a staffing plan and fixed O&M costs more akin to those of a combined cycle natural gas plant than those of the legacy light-water reactor fleet.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Framatome aims to reduce advanced reactor costs by leveraging advanced diagnostics methods to demonstrate feasible fault detection with an optimized set of sensors; develop reliable automatic fault detection algorithms on wide range of systems; and minimize the resources required to perform fault detection. Framatome will develop two novel digital twins for use with Metroscope, a software package that connects digital twins and their associated fault libraries and monitors them with an algorithm to detect problems early on. The digital twins will simulate a passive cooling system with internal thermal hydraulic faults and a typical cooling circuit with different operating modes and control states. They will be paired with Argonne National Laboratory’s Natural Convection Shutdown Heat Removal Test Facility, representing the reactor cavity cooling system of Framatome’s steam cycle high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. Digital twins will allow for sensor sensitivity and reliability to be characterized and optimized.

Potential Impact:

The program goal is to reduce fixed O&M costs from ~13 $/MWh in the current fleet to ~2 $/MWh in the advanced fleet. Benefits include:


Establishing U.S. advanced reactor technological leadership and improving U.S. energy security with safe, reliable, dispatchable power for a robust and resilient electric power system;


Reducing energy-related emissions with a competitive, carbon-free electricity source; and


Increasing productivity and creating a competitive edge for advanced reactors.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jenifer Shafer
Project Contact:
Todd Matthews
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Argonne National Laboratory

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