Existing nuclear power plants are increasingly facing the conversion to digital instrumentation and controls technology. Meanwhile, new nuclear designs have digital technology integrated throughout the plant. Digital controls will soon be inevitable, so how do we make the transition as smooth as possible? Without losing focus on the technical solutions, organizations have to pay attention to the nontechnical issues as well.
Given delays and cancellations of new generating capacity, pushing the existing power generation fleet is more important than ever. At ELECTRIC POWER 2009, multiple presentations explored the premise that an active knowledge management strategy — requiring a blend of digital and human elements unique to each power plant — will help you extract the most productivity from your assets.
Digital fieldbus technologies, including Foundation fieldbus and Profibus, are increasingly being used with success in the nuclear and fossil fuel power industries. This article compares a conventional control system with a Foundation fieldbus – based digital control system used in a typical circulating water system in a nuclear power plant. As shown in this example, using digital fieldbus technologies can result in significant savings in terms of installation and hardware costs.
In order to operate aging nuclear power plant instrumentation and control systems for up to 60 more years or longer, there must be a smooth transition from existing analog technologies to advanced digital platforms. For this to occur, electromagnetic compatibility concerns related to both qualification testing and the electromagnetic environment must be addressed to ensure safe and reliable operation of these systems within the plant’s electromagnetic and radio frequency interference environment. By understanding the regulatory requirements and sharing implementation experience, digital system upgrades can be installed successfully.
It’s a digital world, and even aging power plants are experiencing the benefits of digital controls technologies. The following cover stories provide insight into the latest options and inspiration for your own plant controls projects.
The European carbon trading system experience suggests that North American generators should expect severely altered coal-fired power plant operating profiles if cap-and-trade legislation becomes law. In a groundbreaking study, Solomon Associates predicts the reduction in mean run time that North American generators should expect. The trends outlined in this study provide an overview of some of the broad challenges facing generators in moving to a carbon-constrained market environment.
Researchers from the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) say they have developed a new type of nuclear fuel for use in next-generation high-temperature gas reactors that produces less waste — a major step forward for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).
Japan began operating a nuclear power reactor using plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) as fuel for the first time last October. About 16 MOX-containing fuel assemblies were loaded during a scheduled outage to replace a portion of the 193 fuel assemblies at the No. 3 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant. The utility eventually plans to triple the number of fuel assemblies at the 1,180-MW reactor in Saga Prefecture to 48. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry conducted its final inspection of the reactor and issued its certification on Dec. 2.
Concerns raised by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about the structural strength of Westinghouse Electric Co.’s AP1000 reactor could cause delays for several nuclear plants that planned to use the design in the U.S. — and it raises questions for new builds started or proposed in China and the UK.
Using modularization in the construction of nuclear containment vessels can be one way to control both cost and schedule when building the next generation of U.S. nuclear power plants. Although the advantages of modularization can be significant, each new reactor design and plant site poses unique construction challenges and must be individually analyzed to determine the benefits of this approach.