The Nature and Purpose of a Nuclear Power Plant Simulator

A nuclear power plant simulator can minimise the risk of life-threatening incidents in a nuclear power plant. The advent of computer-generated imagery has changed several aspects of our lives, especially in the entertainment field. For example, with the help of this innovative technology, we can experience compelling and lifelike views of fantasy worlds and creatures or witness impossible feats well beyond the abilities of the most talented and experienced live stunt performers.

While such visual experiences are fascinating, they are merely simulations, the intangible products of sophisticated computer software similar to that used in computer aid design. The latter provides virtual 2D images and 3D models for architects and manufacturers to visualise their concepts. Dentists use similar 3D imaging software to prepare crowns, veneers and other restorations. When these abilities are combined with the interactive capabilities of an online gaming platform, the possibilities are almost endless.

One of those possibilities has gained widespread popularity within the power generation industry. Creating a detailed computerised model of the control room of a conventional or nuclear power plant provides a safer and simpler alternative to the traditional approach in various areas of plant management.

Applications for a nuclear power plant simulator

The nuclear industry is among the pioneers in this field. As far back as the ‘70s, it already used models to perform plant analyses and assist with operator training. At that time, computers were far slower than those of today. However, by the mid to late ‘80s, full-scope simulators had become relatively common in the generating industry and were capable of real-time processing.

The move to digital technology has given us three-dimensional scanning devices and significant improvements to modelling software. Today’s detailed photorealistic models of power plant control rooms can duplicate every tiny detail of the live workspace. The resulting simulations have several possible applications, including the following.

  • Orientation: One of the first requirements for new plant employees is to learn the layout. A guided tour is helpful but also a distraction from more productive tasks for the guide and a lot to take in for the newcomer. By contrast, a simulated inspection can be conducted unsupervised and repeated for maximum retention.
  • Analysis and testing: Even tried and tested procedures can often be improved. Power plants must operate as efficiently as possible to promptly and fully satisfy changing demands. Simulations allow operators to test new ideas that might improve performance and analyse the results, adopting those shown to be safe and effective. Such experimentation could prove highly dangerous if undertaken in the real world.
  • Operator training: It has since become clear that the disastrous series of events that led to the meltdown at Chornobyl in 1986 was due to a combination of design flaws in the Russian-built nuclear power plant and shortfalls in operator training. Operator error was also responsible for America’s  Three Mile Island incident.

The conventional classroom approach when providing theoretical instruction is perfectly adequate. By contrast, the traditional practice of conducting practical training on the job poses numerous snags. A nuclear power plant simulator offers a more viable option. Trainees can engage in on-screen activities that emulate live conditions in every detail, interacting with controls and receiving instant audiovisual feedback.

The benefits of a nuclear power plant simulator

There are many compelling reasons to consider using computerised simulations for practical training, especially in the power industry. The following are three of the most significant.

  • Safety: When engaging with simulated training scenarios, one is free to make mistakes, knowing they will have no real-world consequences. That makes it a great way to practice dealing with emergencies.
  • A more immersive experience: Gaming technology forms the basis of simulator training. Like online games, computerised learning scenarios provide a highly immersive experience more compelling than any live instructor could achieve.
  • A time-saving option: Once a simulation is created, it can be distributed over a local area network, allowing multiple learners to practice simultaneously at convenient times and without supervision. The software can conduct much of the admin work, like testing and performance assessment, saving time and, by extension, money.

Acquiring a nuclear power plant simulator

SimGenics offers two options. We can create a full-scope product for you or provide software to create one in-house. We encourage you to get in touch to learn more about perfecting your operator training.

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