United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Results and Insights on the Impact of Smoke on Digital Instrumentation and Control (NUREG/CR-6597)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: September 2000
Date Published:
January 2001

Prepared by:
T. J. Tanaka, S. P. Nowlen

Sandia National Laboratories
Albuquerque, NM 87185-0748

C. Antonescu, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Division of Systems Technology
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code W6051

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Abstract

Smoke can cause interruptions and upsets in active electronics. Because nuclear power plants are replacing analog with digital instrumentation and control systems, qualification guidelines for new systems are being reviewed for severe environments such as smoke and electromagnetic interference. Active digital systems, individual components, and active circuits have been exposed to smoke in a program sponsored by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The circuits and systems were all monitored during the smoke exposure, indicating any immediate effects of the smoke. The major effect of smoke has been to increase leakage currents (through circuit bridging across contacts and leads) and to cause momentary upsets and failures in digital systems. This report summarizes two previous reports and presents new results from conformal coating, memory chip, and hard drive tests. The report describes practices for mitigation of smoke damage through digital system design, fire barriers, ventilation, fire suppressants, and post fire procedures.

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