French EPR engineering simulator to be upgraded

18 September 2018

Canada-based L3 MAPPS has been awarded a contract by France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) to upgrade its Flamanville 3 engineering simulator, based on the EPR nuclear power reactor design.

The SOFIA Simulator (Image: IRSN)

An engineering simulator is a computer system able to calculate and display in real time the physical parameters of a nuclear power plant. It simulates equipment failures and actions carried out by operators. All actions are initiated from a user-friendly multi-screen human-machine interface.

The Flamanville 3 (FA3) simulator is one of four pressurised water reactor (PWR) simulator configurations that can be operated on the Simulator for Observation of Functioning during Incident and Accident (SOFIA). SOFIA also hosts plant configurations for CP2 (900 MWe), DYP (1300 MWe) and N4 (1450 MWe). SOFIA performs the functioning of a PWR from cold shutdown states to full power state. Accidental transients can be performed up to the beginning of fuel cladding oxidation, corresponding to a cladding temperature around 2000°F.

The modularity of SOFIA allows IRSN to keep its simulator up-to-date with the current state of the French nuclear plants, and to improve the simulation scope to reach a better modelling level.

The original FA3 simulator, developed by L3 MAPPS, has been in service since September 2011. Modifications are now to be made to align SOFIA's FA3 plant models with the latest plant design information. The upgraded simulator will be carried out as a joint project between IRSN and L3 MAPPS.

The upgrade project includes modifications to the plant models in L3 MAPPS' Orchid Modelling Environment. The simulator's electrical and hydraulic systems will be updated by IRSN. L3 MAPPS will modify the safety and operational instrumentation and control systems. IRSN will also modify the existing human-machine interface in L3 MAPPS' Orchid Control System software with L3 MAPPS' support. The integration and testing phases will be shared by IRSN and L3 MAPPS. The upgraded simulator is expected to be in service in the third quarter of 2019.

"The simulator configuration upgrade will allow IRSN to improve its personnel training and safety analysis studies capabilities related to the Flamanville 3 nuclear power plant," said Robin Dorel, IRSN Project Manager for the Sofia Simulator.

Construction of the Flamanville EPR began in December 2007, with commercial operation originally expected in 2013. Hot functional tests - which involve checking the equipment under similar temperature and pressure conditions to those under which it will operate - are now expected to begin before the end this year. The loading of fuel into the unit's core is expected in late-2019.

On 29 June, Taishan 1 became the world's first EPR to achieve grid connection and power generation. It is expected to enter commercial operation later this year. Taishan 2 - which is in the equipment installation phase - is scheduled to begin operating next year. Olkiluoto 3, the first-of-a-kind EPR, has completed hot functional tests and is preparing to load fuel. Two further EPRs are planned for the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, England.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News