A nuclear energy renaissance: How software is changing the nuclear industry
Similar to many targeted industries that benefit from Rational's industry solutions, the Energy and Utilities (E&U) vertical is increasingly adopting both CLM and the IBM industry framework SAFE. Although E&U companies are slowly adopting the best practices in delivering cutting edge transmission and distribution systems, the energy generation side of the E&U’s (especially the nuclear industry) is noticeably behind other verticals in its transformation to software intensive systems. However, as worldwide investment in nuclear plants increases, the plants have the opportunity to embrace the latest in digital control system and control room technologies and significantly improve safety and reliability measures
Transformation of the Nuclear Industry
This transformation is being driven by the adoption of the Federal regulation 10 CFR Part 50 for nuclear plants, which mandated a computerized control system, or “digital Instrumentation and Control”, digital I&C for short. The new I&C systems pose a new set of challenges to an industry which has traditionally been driven by electrical and nuclear technologies alone, without much software based systems in the control loop. Furthermore, the control rooms which were largely equipped with mechanical and electromechanical instrumentation, can now upgrade to slim display panels and solid-state controls, which are not only ergonomic, but also introduce a new dimension of reliability and operational efficiencies, not possible in the electromechanical controls era
Need for solidifying the transformation roadmap – a case for requirements management
Similar to any complex
reengineering, a big challenge faced by the nuclear industry is to define the scope
for the digital transformation to eventually achieve a fully digital nuclear
plant. In other words, define and formalize the requirements, which will lead
the change. For the newer nuclear power plants, many still under construction,
it is vital to automate both requirements and process management, in order to
meet the goals defined by the regulations and also achieve safety and
reliability goals. These goals include not only safety features, but also
modular design, cost of prod
Through formalizing requirements management, nuclear companies can use requirements as basis for re-engineering their existing organizational structure and processes. The latter is a vital step towards achieving added safety and reliability goals, both major concerns in the safety critical environment of a nuclear plant.
The complexity is largely due to volumes of new regulatory requirements, along with the task of integrating and delivering a complex System-of-Systems that make up today’s nuclear reactor. Many of these underlying sub-systems are software intensive, and require sophisticated systems engineering best practices, in order to fulfill the safety, operational, architectural, and technical requirements.
From a Retu
Rational’s requirements management, security, and architecture management solutions provide an automated environment for identifying dangerous or “toxic” requirements and avoid hi-severity bugs in the evolving system. Also, by abstracting large volume of paper documents, which are too large for human understanding, a formal requirements model is created, which is a highly manageable and safety compliant solution.
Formal requirements management provided by IBM Rational DOORS further facilitates downstream milestone such as traceable systems architecture; essential for both delivering bug-free nuclear energy subsystems and for reducing the delivery cost by facilitating component based integration of the final system.