CAE has been awarded two separate contracts to perform large-scale simulator upgrades at US nuclear plants.
The upgrade at Detroit Edison's Fermi 2 simulator involves a complete refurbishment of the plant simulator's computers, instructor stations and simulation models. The upgrade, which will be completed in two-and-a-half years, is intended to improve the simulator's training effectiveness and long-term performance, while reducing operating costs. The list price for similar upgrades is approximately C$6.5 million ($4.7 million). The new training centre at Fermi 2 was featured on page 39 of the March 2003 edition of NEI.
William T O'Connor, Detroit Edison's vice president of nuclear generation, said: "The bottom line is that this will help us to provide improved training for our plant operators using better simulator models." The Fermi 2 simulator began operations October 1984. While other vendors have performed upgrades on the device, this is CAE's first involvement with the simulator.
"The upgrade will include the new Isis instructor stations, simulation models developed within CAE's ROSE simulation environment and a scalable Windows-based platform to replace the current computer system," said Rashid Khan, CAE's executive vice president of marine and power systems. He added: "Large-scale upgrades of power plant simulators is an industry trend that's expected to continue, as the nuclear industry focuses on its long-term generation targets and consequent simulator maintainability issues." The previous large-scale single power plant simulator upgrade in the USA was the South Texas Project refurbishment that was also performed by CAE. Work began in 1992 and lasted three years.
In the second US contract, worth over C$9 million ($6.5 million), the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) of Nebraska selected CAE to refurbish the Fort Calhoun simulator.
CAE will upgrade all parts of the existing simulator, except for the main control room operator panels and emergency response facility computer, and it will supply a fixed 'glass' simulator with the same capabilities as a full-scope simulator. A fixed 'glass' simulator does not have the control room panels found in conventional full-scope simulators. Instead, it uses large, rear-projection touch screens with photo-realistic 'virtual panels' as the prime operator interface. This simulator provides Fort Calhoun with a second training platform and will allow OPPD to investigate prospective plant upgrades without performing any physical changes to either the simulator control room panels or the actual plant.
Derek Burney, president and CEO of CAE, said: "We see a trend toward extending the useful life of nuclear plants to meet long-term generation targets." The simulators' reactor model will be generated using CAE's reactor model generation and update facility, Chorus. The remaining models will be developed using ROSE. The 'virtual panels' of the 'glass' simulator will be developed using CAE's graphics software, RAVE.
CAE will establish a project virtual private network (VPN) for the Fort Calhoun project. From the Internet, the VPN will connect OPPD, their consultants and CAE's sites, allowing for the immediate exchange of reports, questions, data and any other information required for the development and management of the simulator project.