Skip to main content

Giant Digital Simulator Enhances D.C. Cook Plant Training

NEI’s Top Industry Practice Awards recognize innovation in the nuclear energy industry. Presented at NEI’s annual conference, the awards honor accomplishments that help the industry improve safety, streamline processes and increase efficiency. 

In a special series of articles this week, Nuclear Energy Overview highlights the challenges and successes of five winners.


The winners of the TIP Training Award further enhanced their facility’s training by developing a way for reactor operators to hone their skills through advanced simulator training.

The plant simulation department at American Electric Power’s D.C. Cook facility in Michigan developed a 17-foot-by-7-foot rear-projection touchscreen that supports several different virtual simulations, including control room panels, safety-related field equipment and chemistry training. The system, which also includes computers for 30 students, is designed to mimic the responses of real equipment.

“You flip a switch, you turn a knob, you adjust a knob—everything’s the same,” said simulator supervisor Tim Vriezema.

According to Vriezema, bringing in supervisors and equipment experts was essential to ensure the simulations were as realistic as possible.


“They can tell you what feels wrong. They can say, ‘That responds too quickly,’ ‘This doesn’t feel right,’ so you can fine-tune it,” he said.

Training on simulators rather than on duplicate equipment has benefits for plant operators.

First, “you can actually see how what you’re doing is affecting [the equipment]. The physics behind the model is displayable,” Vriezema said.

Acquiring and maintaining duplicate safety equipment for training purposes would have cost American Electric Power $153,000 more than the simulator training development did. Simulator training also takes place outside of radiation-protected areas, keeping employees out of high-dose areas while they are learning.
Vriezema praised the simulation department for its work on the project—not their first to garner recognition throughout the industry.

“It’s a staff of five, and this is the third time we’ve won [a TIP Award]. I have a very, very gifted and creative staff. You throw out an idea and they just run with it.”

Comments

Anonymous said…
All fine and great and well and good, but before we break our arms patting ourselves on the back, it is good to remember that simulation does not produce a single watt-hour of energy, not even a single neutron. You still need a functional plant in order to have something useful to simulate. With these plants dropping like flies lately (Crystal River, Kewaunee, SONGS), I'm worried we're going to be all hat and no cattle (simulate the hell out of something that doesn't exist anymore).

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…