IIT Jodhpur-led-team proposes using wind energy as nuclear coolant 

This team also comprises researchers from the University of Surrey, Tsinghua University and The Institute of Engineering Mechanics in China
Image used for representational purpose only | Pic: IIT Jodhpur
Image used for representational purpose only | Pic: IIT Jodhpur

An international team led by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur has proposed offshore wind farms as seismically resilient alternative power sources to help prevent disasters in nuclear power plants.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of strengthening the reliability of cooling power by utilising sustainable wind power, at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Chennai, reports IANS.

The proposed methodology, published in an article in the journal Nuclear Engineering and Design, involves a series of stages. It commences with the estimation of coolant power needs in nuclear reactors, followed by the design of an offshore wind turbine and its corresponding infrastructure. Finally, a seismic safety evaluation was conducted on the selected offshore wind turbine site, considering different scenario levels.

The researchers, who are from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, Tsinghua University as well as The Institute of Engineering Mechanics in China, and IIT Jodhpur stated that the proposed 15 MW offshore wind farm with three NREL 5 MW turbines supported by monopile foundations at the Kalpakkam area could potentially act as the additional emergency backup power source for meeting the cooling power requirements of existing nuclear power plants.

The offshore wind turbine monopile foundation was analysed under anticipated dynamic loading conditions considering the soil nonlinearity and seismic liquefaction employing state-of-the-art numerical models.

The nonlinear integrated seismic analyses conducted on the proposed offshore wind turbines depicted acceptable seismic performance on comparing the monopile midline displacements and bending moments.

"Given India's pursuit of nuclear energy development and the inevitable presence of seismic and tsunami threats in close proximity, it becomes imperative to enhance the safety of nuclear structures to the highest degree possible," said Dr Pradeep Kumar Dammala, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Infrastructure Engineering, IIT Jodhpur, in a statement, stated the IANS copy.

"This suggested approach serves as an excellent framework for evaluating the seismic resilience of nuclear power plants and the integration of wind energy sources during interconnected events like earthquakes and tsunamis," he added.

Among India's seven nuclear power plants, five are located in seismically active zones III and IV, with three in coastal areas prone to hazards like tsunamis and cyclones. The Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, housing two 220 MW FBRs, is one such plant.

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