The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has licensed the first entirely digital nuclear reactor instrumentation and control (I&C) system in the USA, at the Purdue University Reactor Number One (PUR-1) built in 1962.
Digital conversion at PUR-1 and its associated research facility began in 2012, when the US Department of Energy awarded the university a grant under its Nuclear Energy University Program to replace reactor equipment with a state-of-the-art instrumentation and control system.
The fully digital system was developed by the university in collaboration with Mirion Technologies and the Curtiss-Wright Corp.
Digital technology allows for better preventive maintenance, leading to a longer and safer facility operating lifetime, and digital components are also less expensive and more commercially available than analogue parts, the university said.
Photo: Purdue’s nuclear reactor now has digital capabilities that allow for preventive maintenance, a longer facility lifespan and big data applications. (Purdue University image/Vincent Walter)