With the technical challenges facing the globe, particularly in energy areas, the value of codes and standards has never been more apparent. The commercialization of new technology is critical to meeting many global challenges, and the role of codes and standards in bringing technology to market is changing.
The traditional approach to standardization has included writing prescriptive standards only after technology is fully established and after commercialization has been completed. It has been observed in recent years that the lack of standards in a particular area can actually create a barrier to commercialization. If standards development can be more anticipatory, then useful rules governing the application of technology become available as soon as they are needed.
The adoption of technically relevant consensus standards helps overcome barriers to commercialization by establishing public confidence, permitting rapid and transportable workforce development, removing impediments to business, and enabling global trade. ASME, which for 125 years has played a vital role in development of consensus standards necessary to commercialize technology, formed ASME Standards Technology, LLC to provide ASME's codes and standards committees with the technical basis necessary to develop new codes and standards for emerging technologies.
ASME established ASME Standards Technology, LLC in August 2004 as a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, with ASME as the sole member. The organization was established in part to address concerns over traditionally long standards development times, increasing demands on the time and availability of codes and standards volunteers, and the need for technical basis documents supporting standards actions, particularly in emerging technology areas.
ASME ST-LLC applies its core competencies of project management and administration ' to identify and conduct research projects directly supporting ASME Codes and Standards. ASME ST-LLC, which does not maintain laboratory facilities, carries out testing through formal collaboration, partnerships, or subcontracts with investi- . gators, including public and private laboratories.
The projects are intended to bridge gaps between technology development and standards development. Projects typically involve technology that has advanced beyond proof of concept and requires a focused evaluation to synthesize the knowledge gained from basic research and convert it into new code rules. ASME ST-LLC will typically depend on extensive basic research and development programs that have been performed by national, international, and university labs. The data, observations, and final reports from these basic and applied research programs must be reviewed for relevance as the technical basis for new code rules. In many cases a very large gap exists between test data and a new code rule. This is the typical gap that research projects aim to fill.
Project deliverables are published as Standards Technology Publications and are made available through the ASME catalog and digital store. The publications are provided directly to ASME's codes and standards committees through the C&S Connect Web-based process management system. Research projects to date have resulted in more than 20 Standards Technology Publications.
Consensus is critical to standards development. ASME's consensus process, which involves activities that seek to balance the interests of different stakeholders, results in relevant technical codes and standards that reflect the best practices of the entire engineering community to serve industry and often government. Without consensus, the resulting rules would reflect the opinions of only a single or very limited number of subject matter experts, and widespread adoption and use would prove difficult.
Many of ASME's codes and standards are adopted into regulations, and subject matter experts from government agencies, regulators, and local jurisdictions participate actively on committees. It makes good business sense for experts from industry to participate in the consensus development process, which may directly contribute to establishment of new laws and regulations to which they must ultimately comply. Additionally, adoption of consensus standards reduces the technical burden on regulators, who can rely on the technical relevance of the documents because of the way they were developed.
Since ASME ST-LLC projects help provide the technical basis for new ASME consensus standards that lead to new regulations and help commercialize technology, AS ME STLLC consults with ASME's volunteer subject matter experts serving on consensus standards committees regarding the anticipated standards needs, required technical basis, suggested test progi"ams, and research priorities.. This consultation is an important aspect of the ASME ST-LLC approach. In this way, the research programs are directly relevant to the new standards, and the results are more likely to be utilized and adopted to expedite standards development. Another benefit of this approach is that standards committees can help steer the direction of research and development programs to focus on the priority areas that can make the largest and most immediate impact.
The close involvement of ASME standards committee volunteers can best be demonstrated by the annual research project identification process in place under the ASME Board on Pressure Technology Codes and Standards. Through this plan, standards committee members identify and prioritize technology gaps to be filled. Once the needs are clear, ASME ST-LLC secures project sponsorship, solicits for investigators, executes subcontracts, manages project execution, coordinates peer reviews of draft deliverables, and publishes the final reports. These reports are then made available to relevant committees. The organization also routinely conducts multidisciplinary engineering peer reviews, and serves as a convener of technical forums, workshops, seminars, and conferences.
The organization endeavors to engage international participants from industry, government, and academia in the collaborative research projects to help build early consensus on globally relevant standards. In the process, ASME ST-LLC attempts to engage multiple stakeholders in the sponsorship of collaborative research and development projects. These joint industry projects involve multiple sponsors and several organizations for the accomplishment of research that benefits the entire industry. The projects minimize the investment from a single project sponsor while they maximize the benefit to all participants. Results can be clearly linked to standards actions that further benefit the entire industry.
Today ASME ST-LLC manages nearly 40 technology development projects, with approximately 40 subcontracted organizations and 14 different industry and govern- ment sponsorship organizations. Technology areas include commercial nuclear power, high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors, fusion reactors, hydrogen infrastructure, materials, elevated temperature design, pressure vessels, piping and pipelines, hydraulic turbines, power and heating boilers, non- destructive examination, dimensions and tolerancing, cranes, post construction operations and maintenance, and probabilistic risk assessment.
Recent standards development resulting from ASME ST LLC projects include initiatives related to hydrogen infrastructure and high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors. A series of technical reports addressing hydrogen infrastructure applications directly resulted in new ASME code rules for pressure vessels, piping, and pipelines specific to hydrogen. Deliverables from the Generation IV Reactor Materials project resulted in revisions to code cases for reactor core support structures as well as rules for Class 1 components in elevated temperature service. In both cases the anticipated standards needs and recommended research priorities were originally identified by ASME C&S committees.
The Generation IV Reactor Materials project, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, has brought together respected subject matter experts and information from Canada, France, Japan, the Republic of South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States to compile ' and synthesize materials data and advanced analysis methods to support standards actions for meeting global next generation reactor needs. Since no one organization or country has all the required data and information, global collaboration and leveraging of unique resources is facilitated by th~ ASME ST-LLC. This project serves as a model for the type of global collaboration and cooperation that will be required in meeting Grand Challenges currently facing humankind.
Speaking of Codes
"Globa lization has changed a lot of things.... Most of the leaders and their volunteers have come to realize that they... have to beproactive and they have to listen to other community needs.... It has always been an open system, but it will become more open than ever.
"I believe ASME Codes and Standards leadership and v'olunteers went a long, long way to encourage international participation, and they've done it by many different ways, and they actually had a change of procedures and the structuring of the committees to allow for it to happen. And they're encouraging participation... if not in person, bye -mails.... Things are happening today that no one would have ever imagined."
Madhia Kotbengineer, La Regie du BMimEmt du Que-, bec; Governor of ASfvlE; Boiler and Pressure Vessel Conference Committee; Committee on Nuclear Certification.
Speaking of Codes
"I think it is paramount that jurisdictions be involved in this process because if you' re telling the people of the world that in order to send a product into your jurisdiction, it has to be ASM E, then you have to have some input into the process that writes those standards. Otherwise, it !}lakes it very difficult to go back and convince the legislature within your state that this is the way to go to provide for the safety of the pUblic.... We have active participation in the writing of the standards, and we know from experience that it will turn out a quality and safe product."
Robert J. Aben Jr.chief boiler inspector, boiler division, State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth; chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors; Boiler and Pressure Vessel Conference Committee.
As ASME begins its next 125 years of codes and standards operations, ASME ST-LLC stands ready to support emerging sta~dards development needs. As we look to the future, particularly at global energy and environmental challenges, ASME standards development activities will surely grow. These activities will complement public and private sector research and development, technology demonstration, and infrastructure construction programs aimed at commercializing new technology.
ASME standards can help increase the generation capacity of emissions-free renewable energy, support the deployment of next generation commercial nuclear technology, and expand the production of clean energy from coal. ASME can effectively help achieve these goals with relevant standards that facilitate technology commercialization, support establishment of government regulations, and lead to growth in manufacturing, construction, and operation of new power systems.
ASME's vision statement talks about becoming "the premier organization for promoting the art, science, and practice of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences." As the statement indicates, application of today's technology has not only blurred the traditional boundaries between engineering disciplines but also has created an overlap between science and engineering. The friendly debate endures between scientists and engineers over the relative importance of their contributions to technology development. However, in the most basic definitions, science includes the conversion of data and observation into knowledge, while engineering involves the practical application of this knowledge.
In a very real way, ASME ST-LLC projects help knowledge make the transition from science to engineering, and help ASME achieve its vision.