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

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…

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…