Nuclear Safety: U.S. Regulators Approve Controller

July 24, 2012
As U.S. nuclear plants deal with modernization issues, new automation equipment is needed. A recent safety evaluation report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approves the Triconex Tricon controller, from Houston, Tex.-based Invensys Operations Management, for safety-related applications in nuclear plant environments.

It looks as though the U.S. Nuclear industry is clearly gaining steam this year. Earlier in 2012, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved two new construction permits for nuclear power reactors to Southern Nuclear Operating Company and South Carolina Electric and Gas. The first such approval in more 30 years.  

With renewed momentum for the industry, Invensys Operations Management (iom.invensys.com) released a press release on July 23 announcing its approval by the NRC for its version 10, Triconex Tricon controller. The version 10 controller is now approved for safety-related (1E) applications, such as reactor protection systems. The Commission’s safety evaluation report approval comprises the controller’s software and hardware, including termination panels, chassis, power supplies, main processor modules, communication modules, input/output modules and interconnecting cabling.

The Tricon controller’s fault tolerant, triple-modular-redundant architecture removes single points of failure by integrating three isolated, parallel control systems and extensive diagnostics into one system. The system uses two-out-of-three voting to provide high-integrity, uninterrupted process operation. True triple-modular redudnant archictecture is the only such technology certified by the NRC. 

Modernization is a key issue for Diablo Canyoun Power Plant in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “The Triconex Tricon system is extremely important to us as we continue to migrate to digital technology, while providing safe, clean, reliable power to our customers in California,” says Scott Patterson, program manager for I&C obsolescence for Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “Partnering with Invensys, an automation vendor whose core competency is safety systems, gives us an additional layer of protection as we upgrade older safety-related equipment. NRC certification means we can move forward with modernizing and optimizing our plants to ensure their continuous safe operation. We are confident this technology will enhance future upgrades and new designs, as well as ease the licensing process.”

In 2002, the NRC certified an earlier version of the Tricon controller and since that time we have made a number enhancements,” adds Invensys. Our nuclear customers can now apply Tricon controllers in both their existing fleet and new builds. This certification will be of tremendous value to the fleet of U.S. nuclear plants that require modernization. It also sets a new standard for control and safety excellence for the global nuclear industry.

For further information about the Tricon controller, click here

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