The nuclear-power community has reached the stage of proposing advanced reactor designs to support power generation for decades to come. They are considering small modular reactors (SMRs) as one approach to meet these energy needs. While the power output of individual reactor modules is relatively small, they can be grouped to produce reactor sites with different outputs. Also, they can be designed to generate hydrogen, or to process heat. Many characteristics of SMRs are quite different from those of current plants, and so may require a concept of operations (ConOps) that also is different. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has begun examining the human factors engineering- (HFE) and ConOps- aspects of SMRs; if needed, they will formulate guidance to support SMR licensing reviews. We developed a ConOps model, consisting of the following dimensions: Plant mission; roles and responsibilities of all agents; staffing, qualifications, and training; management of normal operations; management of off-normal conditions and emergencies; and, management of maintenance and modifications. We are reviewing information on SMR design to obtain data about each of these dimensions, and have identified several preliminary issues. In addition, we are obtaining operations-related information from other types of multi-module systems, such as refineries, to identify lessons learned from their experience. Here, we describe the project's methodology and our preliminary findings.
Date: November 7, 2010
Creator: OHara, J.M.; Higgins, J.; Deem, R. (BNL); Xing, J. & DAgostino, A. (NRC)
Small modular reactors (SMRs) are a promising approach to meeting future energy needs. Although the electrical output of an individual SMR is relatively small compared to that of typical commercial nuclear plants, they can be grouped to produce as much energy as a utility demands. Furthermore, SMRs can be used for other purposes, such as producing hydrogen and generating process heat. The design characteristics of many SMRs differ from those of current conventional plants and may require a distinct concept of operations. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted research to examine the human factors engineering and the operational aspects of SMRs. The research identified thirty potential human-performance issues that should be considered in the NRC's reviews of SMR designs and in future research activities. The purpose of this report is to illustrate how the issues can support SMR probabilistic risk analyses and their review by identifying potential human failure events for a subset of the issues. As part of addressing the human contribution to plant risk, human reliability analysis practitioners identify and quantify the human failure events that can negatively impact normal or emergency plant operations. The results illustrated here can be generalized to identify additional human failure events for the issues discussed and can be applied to those issues not discussed in this report.
Date: January 27, 2012
Creator: M., OHara J.; Higgins, H.; DAgostino, A. & Erasmia, L.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) conducts human factors engineering (HFE) safety reviews of applicant submittals for new plants and for changes to existing plants. The reviews include the evaluation of the methods and tools (M&T) used by applicants as part of their HFE program. The technology used to perform HFE activities has been rapidly evolving, resulting in a whole new generation of HFE M&Ts. The objectives of this research were to identify the current trends in HFE methods and tools, determine their applicability to NRC safety reviews, and identify topics for which the NRC may need additional guidance to support the NRC's safety reviews. We conducted a survey that identified over 100 new HFE M&Ts. The M&Ts were assessed to identify general trends. Seven trends were identified: Computer Applications for Performing Traditional Analyses, Computer-Aided Design, Integration of HFE Methods and Tools, Rapid Development Engineering, Analysis of Cognitive Tasks, Use of Virtual Environments and Visualizations, and Application of Human Performance Models. We assessed each trend to determine its applicability to the NRC's review by considering (1) whether the nuclear industry is making use of M&Ts for each trend, and (2) whether M&Ts reflecting the trend can be reviewed using the current design review guidance. We concluded that M&T trends that are applicable to the commercial nuclear industry and are expected to impact safety reviews may be considered for review guidance development. Three trends fell into this category: Analysis of Cognitive Tasks, Use of Virtual Environments and Visualizations, and Application of Human Performance Models. The other trends do not need to be addressed at this time.
Date: September 30, 2009
Creator: O'Hara, J.M.; Plott, C.; Milanski, J.; Ronan, A.; Scheff, S.; Laux, L. et al.
The nuclear-power community has reached the stage of proposing advanced reactor designs to support power generation for decades to come. Small modular reactors (SMRs) are one approach to meet these energy needs. While the power output of individual reactor modules is relatively small, they can be grouped to produce reactor sites with different outputs. Also, they can be designed to generate hydrogen, or to process heat. Many characteristics of SMRs are quite different from those of current plants and may be operated quite differently. One difference is that multiple units may be operated by a single crew (or a single operator) from one control room. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is examining the human factors engineering (HFE) aspects of SMRs to support licensing reviews. While we reviewed information on SMR designs to obtain information, the designs are not completed and all of the design and operational information is not yet available. Nor is there information on multi-unit operations as envisioned for SMRs available in operating experience. Thus, to gain a better understanding of multi-unit operations we sought the lesson learned from non-nuclear systems that have experience in multi-unit operations, specifically refineries, unmanned aerial vehicles and tele-intensive care units. In this paper we report the lessons learned from these systems and the implications for SMRs.
Date: January 17, 2012
Creator: M., OHara J.; Higgins, J. & DAgostino, A.
Human performance models (HPMs) are simulations of human behavior with which we can predict human performance. Designers use them to support their human factors engineering (HFE) programs for a wide range of complex systems, including commercial nuclear power plants. Applicants to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) can use HPMs for design certifications, operating licenses, and license amendments. In the context of nuclear-plant safety, it is important to assure that HPMs are verified and validated, and their usage is consistent with their intended purpose. Using HPMs improperly may generate misleading or incorrect information, entailing safety concerns. The objective of this research was to develop guidance to support the NRC staff's reviews of an applicant's use of HPMs in an HFE program. The guidance is divided into three topical areas: (1) HPM Verification, (2) HPM Validation, and (3) User Interface Verification. Following this guidance will help ensure the benefits of HPMs are achieved in a technically sound, defensible manner. During the course of developing this guidance, I identified several issues that could not be addressed; they also are discussed.
Increasingly nuclear power plant procedures, such as emergency operating procedures, are being presented in computer form with functionality to support operator use and management of the procedures. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently has guidance for the review of computer-based procedures (CBPs); however, there remain CBP functions and human performance issues for which up-to-date guidance is lacking. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has initiated a standard development effort to address the human factors engineering (HFE) aspects of CBP systems. When completed, it may provide guidance to supplement the NRC staff's review criteria. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the suitability of the IEEE Standard for use in the NRC's HFE safety reviews of CBP systems and to ensure that the guidance meets the NRC's standard for scientific and engineering rigor used in its own guidance development efforts. We established the following criteria with which to evaluate the Standard: (1) it should meet an existing need of NRC reviewers, (2) it should be based in sound HFE principles, (3) it should be thoroughly peer-reviewed, and (4) it should address CBP-related human performance issues identified in the literature. This report describes the methodology we used to evaluate each criterion. Our evaluation concluded that the Standard generally does meet these criteria, however several areas were identified for which additional clarifications are needed. Thus consideration of the Standard's use by the NRC is supported. The standard evaluation methodology developed in this study can be generally applied to the review of other HFE standards being considered for possible use or endorsement by the NRC.
Automation has become ubiquitous in modern complex systems and commercial nuclear power plants are no exception. Beyond the control of plant functions and systems, automation is applied to a wide range of additional functions including monitoring and detection, situation assessment, response planning, response implementation, and interface management. Automation has become a 'team player' supporting plant personnel in nearly all aspects of plant operation. In light of the increasing use and importance of automation in new and future plants, guidance is needed to enable the NRC staff to conduct safety reviews of the human factors engineering (HFE) aspects of modern automation. The objective of the research described in this report was to develop guidance for reviewing the operator's interface with automation. We first developed a characterization of the important HFE aspects of automation based on how it is implemented in current systems. The characterization included five dimensions: Level of automation, function of automation, modes of automation, flexibility of allocation, and reliability of automation. Next, we reviewed literature pertaining to the effects of these aspects of automation on human performance and the design of human-system interfaces (HSIs) for automation. Then, we used the technical basis established by the literature to develop design review guidance. The guidance is divided into the following seven topics: Automation displays, interaction and control, automation modes, automation levels, adaptive automation, error tolerance and failure management, and HSI integration. In addition, we identified insights into the automaton design process, operator training, and operations.
New and advanced reactors will use integrated digital instrumentation and control (I&C) systems to support operators in their monitoring and control functions. Even though digital systems are typically highly reliable, their potential for degradation or failure could significantly affect operator performance and, consequently, impact plant safety. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) supported this research project to investigate the effects of degraded I&C systems on human performance and plant operations. The objective was to develop human factors engineering (HFE) review guidance addressing the detection and management of degraded digital I&C conditions by plant operators. We reviewed pertinent standards and guidelines, empirical studies, and plant operating experience. In addition, we conducted an evaluation of the potential effects of selected failure modes of the digital feedwater system on human-system interfaces (HSIs) and operator performance. The results indicated that I&C degradations are prevalent in plants employing digital systems and the overall effects on plant behavior can be significant, such as causing a reactor trip or causing equipment to operate unexpectedly. I&C degradations can impact the HSIs used by operators to monitor and control the plant. For example, sensor degradations can make displays difficult to interpret and can sometimes mislead operators by making it appear that a process disturbance has occurred. We used the information obtained as the technical basis upon which to develop HFE review guidance. The guidance addresses the treatment of degraded I&C conditions as part of the design process and the HSI features and functions that support operators to monitor I&C performance and manage I&C degradations when they occur. In addition, we identified topics for future research.
Date: February 26, 2010
Creator: O'Hara, J.M. & W. Gunther, G. Martinez-Guridi
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