United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Application of Microprocessor-Based Equipment in Nuclear Power Plants-Technical Basis for a Qualification Methodology – Draft Report for Comment (NUREG/CR-6741)

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This NUREG-series publication was issued for public comment. The comment period is now closed.

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: July 2001
Date Published:
August 2001

Prepared by:
K. Korsah, R.T. Wood, ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Managed by UT-Battelle, LLC
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6010

C.E. Antonescu,, NRC Project Manager

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

NRC Job Code L1798

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This document (1) summarizes the most significant findings of the "Qualification of Advanced Instrumentation and Control (I&C) Systems" program initiated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); (2) documents a comparative analysis of U.S. and European qualification standards; and (3) provides recommendations for enhancing regulatory guidance for environmental qualification of microprocessor-based safety-related systems.

Safety-related I&C system upgrades of present-day nuclear power plants, as well as I&C systems of Advanced Light-Water Reactors (ALWRs), are expected to make increasing use of microprocessor based technology. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recognized that the use of such technology may pose environmental qualification challenges different from current, analog-based I&C systems. Hence, it initiated the "Qualification of Advanced Instrumentation and Control Systems" program. The objectives of this confirmatory research project are to (1) identify any unique environmental-stress-related failure modes posed by digital technologies and their potential impact on the safety systems and (2) develop the technical basis for regulatory guidance using these findings.

Previous findings from this study have been documented in several technical reports. This final report in the series documents a comparative analysis of two environmental qualification standards-Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Std 323-1983 and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 60780 (1998)-and provides recommendations for environmental qualification of microprocessor-based systems based on this analysis as well as on the findings documented in the previous reports. The two standards were chosen for this analysis because IEEE 323 is the standard used in the U.S. for the qualification of safety-related equipment in nuclear power plants, and IEC 60780 is its European counterpart. In addition, the IEC document was published in 1998, and should reflect any new qualification concerns, from the European perspective, with regard to the use of microprocessor-based safety systems in power plants. (IEEE 323-1983 was reaffirmed in 1990 and 1996.)

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