Artificial intelligence could lower nuclear energy costs

LEMONT - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are devising systems that could make nuclear energy more competitive using artificial intelligence.

Argonne is midway through a $1 million, three-year project to explore how smart, computerized systems could change the economics of nuclear power, Argonne said Thursday in a news release.

Nuclear power plants provide large amounts of electricity without releasing planet-warming pollution. However, the expense of running these plants has made it difficult for them to stay open. If nuclear is to play a role in the U.S. clean energy economy, costs must come down, Argonne said.

Nuclear power plants are expensive in part because they demand constant monitoring and maintenance to ensure consistent power flow and safety.

"Operation and maintenance costs are quite relevant for nuclear units, which currently require large site crews and extensive upkeep," said Roberto Ponciroli, a principal nuclear engineer at Argonne. "We think that autonomous operation can help to improve their profitability and also benefit the deployment of advanced reactor concepts."

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