A new virtual control room simulator at the Idaho National Laboratory is being used to help US nuclear operators with the upgrade from analogue to digital control room technology.
The new Human System Simulation Laboratory (HSSL) at INL was specifically designed to facilitate digital renovation of existing nuclear power plants. It allows operators to test the safety and reliability of proposed technology replacements before they are implemented in real control rooms.
HSSL is a hybrid facility that mimics both digital and analogue systems. It includes 15 state-of-the-art glass-top touch-sensitive panels, and controls that are fully reconfigurable to duplicate control rooms of any operating nuclear reactor.
Most of the development effort at HSSL is currently focused on Duke Energy's Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina.
"The HSSL provides the ability to rapidly develop prototype control-room modifications, get early feedback from control-room operators, and test new designs with realistic plant scenarios before the designs are built," said Joseph Naser, EPRI project manager and technical executive. "This will allow the designs to effectively and reliably meet the goals of the plant owner and will reduce the cost and time to implementation."
The simulation lab team is also working on prototype digital displays that would convey chemical balance, turbine control and other important plant information not captured on the current panels. The aim of this work is to introduce information that can help human controllers maintain their situational awareness,particularly during emergencies.
The HSSL was funded by the US Department of Energy's Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program as well as INL the Laboratory Directed Research and Development fund. The facility was completed in March 2013.
Photo: The HSSL (Source: INL)