Mohaghegh Serves as Chief Scientific Investigator in International Atomic Energy Agency Coordinated Research


Mohaghegh Serves as Chief Scientific Investigator in International Atomic Energy Agency Coordinated Research

Managing risk due to pipe failures is an important consideration for nuclear power plants.

NPRE Assistant Professor Zahra Mohaghegh and her Socio-Technical Risk Analysis (SoTeRiA) Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have joined a team of international collaborators to study this topic. The Illinois group will apply Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) modeling to evaluate the likelihood of pipe failures for risk informing reactor designs, and for enhancing risk management insights for maintenance, inspection programs and improved risk management.

Mohaghegh is Chief Scientific Investigator and a representative of the United States in the coordinated research project, “Methodology for Assessing Pipe Failure Rates in Advanced Water Cooled Reactors.” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which assists research for peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the development of practical applications throughout the world, is sponsoring the project.

This IAEA team brings together experts from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies from eight countries, including Canada, Germany, Korea, Lithuania, Malaysia, Russia, Tunisia, and the United States. The four-year project’s objective is to develop new methodologies to estimate pipe failure rates in advanced water cooled reactors for improved safety designs.

Mohaghegh and Justin Pence, an NPRE graduate research assistant, recently attended the project’s first meeting held June 12-14, 2018, in Vienna, Austria. Mohaghegh and Pence introduced SoTeRiA Laboratory’s proposed methodology on the prediction of pipe failure rates, discussed future plans for the projects, and helped to establish a unified plan for the four-year scope of the project.

SoTeRiA provides scientific and innovative research solutions to complex real-world problems of safety, reliability, security, and profitability. The lab advances PRA for risk-informed design and regulation of conventional nuclear power plants and advanced reactors by explicitly incorporating the underlying science of accident causation into risk scenarios.

SoTeRiA has pioneered two key areas of theoretical and methodological developments:

  • Spatio-temporal causal modeling of social and physical failure mechanisms in PRA
  • The fusion of big data analytics with PRA

The lab’s on-going research project sponsored by the National Science Foundation on organizational risk analysis, research supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Systematic Enterprise Risk Analysis, and the projects supported by the nuclear industry can be found on the SoTeRiA Lab website.


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