Addressing Function Allocation for the Digital Transformation of Existing Nuclear Power Plants

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Casey Kovesdi

Abstract: The existing nuclear power plants in the United States (U.S.) have a vital role in providing carbon-free electricity. However, these existing plants are being economically challenged due to changes in the U.S. energy market. In order for the existing nuclear power plant fleet to remain economically viable, a significant digital transformation that fundamentally changes the way in which these plants are operated, maintained, and supported ought to be seriously considered. Adopting advanced digital technologies is an important element of the digital transformation, and includes adding new automation capabilities like control automation, computer-based procedures (CBPs), advanced alarms, decision support, and digital human-system interfaces (HSIs). Moreover, safe and effective adoption of automation requires addressing human and technology integration considerations that come along with making significant changes to the existing plants’ concept of operation. For example, task responsibilities are likely to change for control room operators to a more supervisory role; crew coordination may be impacted from the use of automation, digital HSIs, and associated capabilities that are available from a modern control system. This work describes important considerations and challenges that come with function allocation for the adoption of new automation at existing nuclear power plants, based on continuing research from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Light Water Reactor Sustainability (LWRS) Program. Specifically, this work reviews the state-of-the-art in function allocation guidance within the U.S. nuclear industry along, identifies current challenges in interpreting and applying this guidance within the context of making significant modifications to existing plants, and identifies emerging methods that may support function allocation for these cases based on a review of the literature combined with ongoing discussions with a utility partner. An objective of this work is to raise awareness of these current challenges and proposed approaches to the human factors community to support future research and development that ultimately supports the effective use of function allocation in the digital transformation of existing nuclear power plants.

Keywords: Function Allocation, Human-Technology Integration, Nuclear Power Plant Modernization

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002220

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