Application of Wireless Technologies in Nuclear Power Plant Instrumentation and Control Systems

Closed for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code

I31028

CRP

2011

Approved Date

8 May 2014

Status

4 - Closed

Start Date

12 December 2014

Expected End Date

11 December 2018

Completed Date

24 September 2018

Participating Countries

Canada
China
Egypt
France
Hungary
India
Italy
Japan
Pakistan
Republic of Korea
Russian Federation
United States of America

Description

Wireless technology provides excellent solutions to the problem of the high cost of industrial wiring and also provides a convenient and fast way to the installation of temporary instrumentation to monitor the health of selected plant equipment. The potential cost reduction of avoiding wire/cable installation and maintenance is creating an expanding market for wireless applications. Low power consumption, battery operated devices can avoid the need for power supply cables as well as communications cables. The CRP will focus on resolving problems with the operation of wireless systems in the electrically noisy environment of a nuclear power plant (NPP). Most of the heavy physical structures in an NPP are characterized by high reverberant radio frequency (RF) environments, which cause multi-path interference in RF signals. Also, wireless devices using RF are subjected to many sources of electromagnetic interference in the NPPs. Large motors, motor controllers, electric devices, process controllers, digital equipment, and radio communication devices are obvious sources of electromagnetic interference, and altogether they constitute a negative environment for wireless communication. The use of wireless technology also brings problems of security and privacy to industrial networks. The scope of the research will cover issues including: electromagnetic compatibility, cybersecurity, reliability, transmission delay, cost, issues surrounding deployment of additional sensors on existing network infrastructure, communication spectrum management, power and cabling concerns, etc. The IAEA will launch this CRP based on the recommendation of the Technical Working Group on Nuclear Power Plant Instrumentation and Control.

Objectives

The overall objectives of the CRP were:
• To develop and demonstrate techniques of advanced wireless communication in I&C systems of nuclear power plants that can be used for transferring process and diagnostic information by offering an alternative to wired solutions.
• To strengthen Member States’ capabilities for optimization of nuclear power plants' performance and service life through improved technological and engineering knowledge.

Specific objectives

The specific objectives of this CRP were to define and coordinate research to support the development of new wireless data communication techniques for transferring process information at nuclear power plants. Based on this primary goal, there were several sub-categories under which the research objectives had been classified. The major sub-categories were:
• Mapping and gap analysis of existing codes and standards applicable to wireless communication in I&C systems of NPPs.
• A review of effects of ionizing radiation on both transmitted radio signals and associated hardware. A summary of methods of protecting electronic devices from radiation damage.
• A review of formal methods to ensure secure wireless communications.
• Research of assigned topics related to wireless technologies, namely:

1. Wireless network architectures
2. Interference and coexistence
3. Signal propagation / footprint
4. Integration with existing I&C systems
5. Communication through the containment walls
6. Energy sources
7. Simulation and deployment tools

Impact

Results obtained within the framework of this CRP represent a significant contribution towards addressing and summarizing current scientific and technical knowledge and experience in the wireless data communication area at nuclear power plants. The outputs obtained contribute to new knowledge in several areas. The results strongly relate to the original problem description identified at the initiation of the project and link to the overall and specific objectives of the CRP as planned in the logical framework.

The CRP has involved a large number of participating individuals and facilitated the establishment of a good collaboration among them. The possibilities of this cooperation enabled good information exchange on ideas, technical knowledge and experience as well as new scientific solutions. Participants have experienced a great international recognition of their work within the project and (after the release of the NES publication) in the broader scientific and industry community.

Relevance

The overall and specific objectives and outputs of the CRP are appropriate, relevant and worthwhile to the Agency Sub-programme 1.1.1 “Strengthening Integrated Engineering Support for Nuclear Power Programmes”. This also includes the use of the main CRP report and the detailed research descriptions in the annexes as workshop/training materials. CRP participants are also potential lecturers and experts at future expert missions and workshops. The completed CRP is very useful for the target scientific community and to the Agency.

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