Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Woodruff Colloquium


Digital Transformation of the Southern Nuclear Operating Fleet


Brad Adams


Southern Nuclear


Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at 6:00:00 PM   Add to Calendar


GTMI Building, Room auditorium


Fan Zhang


The existing fleet of 92 operating light water nuclear reactors in the United States are VALUABLE national assets. While there are many headwinds in the face of the current generation of nuclear plants, SNC has developed a vision and detailed plan to digitally modernize the six (6) operating reactors in the SNC fleet, Plant Vogtle Units 1&2 outside of Augusta, GA, Plant Hatch near Vidalia, GA and Plant Farley near Dothan, AL. Southern Company is also building next generation reactors at Plant Vogtle, Units 3&4. These 2 units are essentially, fully digital and modernized and will be placed in commercial operation over the next 2 years. However, all 6 of the existing units are 40+ years old and were designed and constructed with 1970s and 80s technology and primarily based on analog control systems, logic and safety. The plants were built with tremendous redundancy and the technology has proven reliable and safe. In spite of the clamor from some, the safety and reliability record of the U.S. nuclear industry is the envy of the world and it is something that all of us engaged with nuclear technology should be proud of. Most plants in the U.S. nuclear industry have made piecemeal attempts at digital upgrades but the complexity, regulatory resistance, expense and change resistance culture of the industry has prevented wholesale digital transformation and modernization. SNC, in conjunction with some of our vendor and engineering partners in the industry, national labs, and universities, has developed a vision and blueprint for overall digital modernization of the operating fleet. This modernization vision includes upgrades to the technology of the control and operating systems in the plant and the tools available to operators, engineers and maintenance technicians. The plan includes a keen focus on people development for the nuclear professional of the future along with a fundamental assessment of the business processes that which we run our business. The digital modernization of the plants along with utilization of advanced nuclear fuel technology will allow these assets to continue to produce carbon free energy for much of the remainder of this century.


Brad Adams is vice president of technical compliance at Plant Vogtle, Units 3 & 4. Prior to this role, Brad served as engineering vice president for Southern Nuclear Operating Company. He is a member of the Southern Nuclear management council. Brad began his nuclear career in 1983 as a design engineer for Commonwealth Edison’s nuclear fuel services group and progressed to design group leader. He transferred to Byron Station in 1995 and held managerial positions in regulatory assurance, system engineering and work management before being named Byron’s site engineering director. In 2007, Brad transferred to Quad Cities Nuclear Station as site engineering director. He returned to Byron Station in 2008 as plant manager, a position he held until joining Southern Nuclear in 2011 as fleet operations support vice president. In 2013, Brad assumed his previous position as fleet engineering vice president. Brad was co-chair of an industry working group comprised of nuclear experts who in April 2016 submitted the report, Research Development and Demonstration Needs for Light Water Reactor Technologies, to the Reactor Technology Subcommittee of the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee, Office of Nuclear Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. He’s the current chairman of the University of Tennessee Nuclear Engineering Board of Advisors, an executive sponsor of the EPRI Materials Reliability Program and a member of EPRI’s Pressurized Water Reactor Owner’s Group executive committee. He led Southern Nuclear’s fleet digitalization initiative and has been considered an industry leader – along with executives at Exelon, Duke and Dominion – in the move to digitalize nuclear plants throughout the United States. Brad was inducted as an American Nuclear Society (ANS) Fellow in 2021, a prestigious honor recognizing outstanding accomplishment in advancing the science or art of nuclear technology. Induction as an ANS Fellow is the highest membership grade awarded by the Society. Brad is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering. He received his NRC Senior Reactor Operator certification in 1999.


Dinner will be provided and then the seminar starts