Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Flash Fun

With apologies to MetaFilter for blatantly ripping off their Friday Flash Fun idea, we offer up AE4RV's Nuclear Plant Operator game. Enjoy!

Friday Flash Fun


anony-mouse said...

"You are in control of a small commercial nuclear power plant.  [b]Your goal is to produce as much power as possible without causing a meltdown.[/b]"

Ingenious summary of how people see nuclear power plants. The fact that maxing out the plant is rather normal, and that a meltdown is only possible after a horrible accident, is somewhat missed. :/

George Carty said...

Just a note on the game - it seems like 0% control rods means "fully in" and 100% means "fully out" - I had two meltdowns before I realized that :(

Adam said...

There are several nuclear plant simulations on the web, many of which are similarly guilty of misrepresenting various aspects of NPP operation (level of control, absence of automation, likelihood of failure, time-scale, etc.) to make core damage more probable. Although this undoubtedly makes for a more interesting simulation, the (perhaps) inadvertent effect is that people (continue to) overestimate the risk associated with NPP.

This program is especially guilty of this.

Other interesting details:
-The plant is a 20MWe PWR
-The GUI has 18 annunciator lights, including the comical "Power Output Low" and "Meltdown".
-The GUI outputs four properties that characterize the plant state: Reactor Temperature, Steam Generator Temperature, Cooling Tower Temperature, and Reactor Power, all on analog scales with handy green, yellow and red bands so the operator knows whether the number is OK.
-The operator has control of the Control Rod Positions, Primary Coolant Flow, Secondary Coolant Flow, and Emergency Coolant Flow, all adjustable from 0-100% rated flow.
-The operator can only adjust these variables once per game-day, after which the plant conditions are updated. All transients literally take "days".

I'm a bit curious which equations the simulation is using, but no such information is provided by the website or demo.

Also did anyone else notice the reactor coolant flow diagram? The coolant seems to around the core (down the downcomer, below the core, and back up the downcomer) rather than through it.