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Redesigning nuclear power plant control rooms

By Tatevik Aprikyan
Published On: Aug 08 2013 07:21:59 PM CDT

Modernizing Nuclear Power Plant Control Rooms


The Idaho National Laboratory is modernizing control rooms for nuclear power plants.

The current systems are nearing the end of their 40-year life span, so as new ones are installed, digital is the choice.

Researchers at the INL ran through an emergency test scenario Thursday using the Human System Simulation Laboratory.

15 touch screen panels make-up a full-scale model of a nuclear power plant control room.

"We can go in and pull the computer based procedures," said Rob Boring, a human factors scientist at the INL.

Designing the new control room system took years and keeping the operator in mind was key.

"How do we help the operator maintain situation awareness, how do we help them not get overloaded. All of these things come together and that's how psychology plays into it," said Boring.
"You have to consider how people think," said Tom Ulrich a graduate intern at the INL.

Ulrich runs test scenarios, he says creating technology that is interactive and intuitive was very important in the design.

"We wouldn't want to have some information right here and then have some control switch on the other side of the room," said Ulrich.
The panels are all digital, even opening and closing, valves by the touch of a finger.
"It's a huge asset for the INL and it's a huge asset for the nuclear community," said Boring.

The panels can be reconfigured to bring up the models of different nuclear power plants