Sargent & Lundy Shares Insights on Artificial Intelligence and Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Plant Control Rooms

Firm shares expertise at Department of Energy plant modernization meetings

Dec. 21, 2023 – Sargent & Lundy’s Christianna Howard and Richard Paese, who specialize in human interface with technology, recently shared their insights on digital modernization strategies for the economic sustainability of the U.S. nuclear fleet. The two presented at a virtual conference of industry experts at the Idaho National Laboratory’s Plant Modernization Stakeholder Meetings.

Sargent & Lundy Christianna HowardHoward and Paese collaborate with Southern Nuclear Company and the INL to develop conceptual designs for nuclear plant digital instrumentation and control platforms that take human capabilities and limitations into account. Their work helps place Sargent & Lundy at the forefront of efforts to modernize the U.S. nuclear fleet as utilities seek approvals for subsequent license renewals to extend the safe and efficient life of nuclear power plants.

Howard’s presentation focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to achieve significant improvements in process efficiency, quality, and decision making. Strategic selection and implementation of AI/ML can help identify bottlenecks, reduce errors, optimize resource allocation, and streamline repetitive tasks.

Sargent & Lundy Richard PaesePaese presented a session on upgrading nuclear plant main control rooms to replace obsolete analog controls. He emphasized the importance of approaching modernization efforts with an integrated strategy to design control rooms in a standard, holistic manner, rather than taking piecemeal approaches that don’t always account for human-machine interfaces. He explained that control room designs must address the next generation of operators and take full advantage of the digital systems’ capabilities to reduce operational risk through an evolving concept of operations.

The two sessions were part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program, which conducts research to develop technologies and other solutions to improve the economics and reliability, sustain the safety, and extend the operation of the fleet of nuclear power plants in the U.S.

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