NEA mission to Korea highlights new disruptive technologies entering the nuclear sector

International Workshop on Disruptive Technologies for Nuclear Safety Applications - May 2023, Jeju, Korea

The NEA Director-Genderal and other officials participated in the International Workshop on Disruptive Technologies for Nuclear Safety Applications on 16-17 May 2023 in Jeju, Korea

New disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and advanced robotics, are making their way into the nuclear energy sector and are poised to create enormous changes.

To address this topic, the Nuclear Energy Agency brought together academia, research organisations, industry and regulatory bodies, to discuss the potential opportunities and challenges posed by the adoption of these disruptive innovations in a workshop held during 16-17 May 2023 in Jeju, Korea.

Co-organised with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) and Korean Nuclear Society (KNS) the International Workshop on Disruptive Technologies for Nuclear Safety Applications enabled participants to exchange views and experiences related to the latest developments in the use of disruptive technologies in the nuclear sector and other industries, and to consider prospects for international co-operation.

Several high-level speakers addressed the workshop, including William D. Magwood, IV, NEA Director-General; Tae Seog Oh, First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and ICT; Rumina Velshi, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC); Han Gyu Joo, President of KAERI; Won-Pil Baek, KNS President; and Véronique Rouyer, Head of the NEA Division of Nuclear Safety Technology and Regulation.

Tae Seog Oh, First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea - May 2023, Jeju, Korea 

Tae Seog Oh, First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea, addresses the participants during the opening of the workshop

Discussions delved into the different considerations of new disruptive technologies, with panel topics on Enhancing safety with digital applications, Advanced modelling and data driven technologies, Enhancing safety with innovations on hard components, Advanced manufacturing, Smart devices and robotics. Additionally, Ki-Yong Choi, Division Director of KAERI, delivered a presentation on Applications of disruptive technologies for nuclear safety innovations, and Philippe Guiberteau, Special Advisor for Technology Policy Activities at the NEA, provided an update on the progress of the Nuclear Innovation 2050 project.

NEA Director-General Magwood discussed the approaching arrival of new disruptive technologies which could have huge impacts on the sector.

“It is undeniable that disruptive technologies are reshaping sectors across various economies, and the nuclear sector is not immune to this transformation. These technologies carry the potential to enhance nuclear safety while improving the competitiveness of both, existing and new reactors, and accelerating the innovation cycle,” said NEA Director-General Magwood. “This workshop is a great opportunity to foster constructive dialogue, align expectations among stakeholders and start building an environment that will allow the nuclear sector to get the most from this technological revolution," he added.

NEA Director-General Magwood - May 2023, Jeju, Korea

NEA Director-General Magwood underlines the transformative potential of disruptive technologies to improve the safety and competiveness of the nuclear sector, with regulators playing a critical role in enabling their broad adoption

The NEA Director-General also highlighted Korea’s success in demonstrating the importance of a strong and reliable supply chain, as witnessed with the construction of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the United Arab Emirates, which was built successfully using Korean expertise and supply chains.

CNSC President and CEO Rumina Velshi - May 2023, Jeju, Korea

Participants listen to special keynote address by Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission President and CEO, Rumina Velshi

Rumina Velshi, President and CEO of CNSC, delivered special keynote remarks on regulatory challenges related to innovation. “If small modular reactors – and existing nuclear facilities – are to help address climate change and energy security challenges, then we will need to effectively communicate to the public that safety will never be compromised in deploying new technology. Disruptive, innovative, and emerging technologies must, and will, play a part in these plans. And to foster safety, innovation and regulation must go hand in hand,” said CNSC President and CEO Velshi.

Véronique Rouyer, opening session Chair and NEA Head of Division of Nuclear Safety Technology and Regulation, highlighted the involvement of representatives from regulatory authorities in the workshop. “For some regulators, it is not the technologies that are disruptive, but rather their application in a new business model, especially in the nuclear field. Their application to support safety issues could be very disruptive for the licensing perspectives and for regulators that have to consider these applications,” she said.

Ahead of the workshop, Director-General Magwood delivered a lecture to students at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology. Addressing the group of students, he discussed the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century nuclear resurgence before taking a tour of the nuclear fuel materials laboratory.

Director-General Magwood at Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, May 2023, Jeju, Korea 

Director-General Magwood tours the nuclear fuel materials lab at Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology

In addition, the NEA delegation led by Director-General Magwood engaged in bilateral meetings with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Ministry of Science and ICT, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Korean Nuclear Society, Korea Nuclear International Co-operation Foundation, Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, Korea Institute of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Control, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co.

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