Electrical, control & instrumentation

Nuclear technology

Electrical, control and instrumentation products and services include:

  • reactor controls and instrumentation
  • testing
  • test equipment and simulation.

Effective through-life management of systems involves tackling critical issues such as aging or unavailable parts and providing a range of support services.

Our instrumentation & control (I&C) solutions have more than 3,000 reactor years of successful operating experience, delivering safety with optimum reliability to 200 reactors globally.

Compliant with international nuclear safety I&C requirements, Rolls-Royce’s patented Spinline™ technology underpins our I&C safety systems, which enables utilities to improve the safety and availability of their nuclear power plants.

Reactor controls & instrumentation

The reactor control and instrumentation (RC&I) system controls and protects the nuclear plant to ensure the reactor can be controlled safely by operators. This is achieved by using sensors, electrical systems and actuators. They govern systems such as control rods or boric acid management, which adjust the rate of nuclear fission in the reactor to determine its power output.

The introduction of next generation nuclear submarines, around 2028, will call for a new RC&I suite to control new plant design.

Testing

A range of equipment is produced for testing purposes including data loggers, remote visual inspection equipment, test-rig control and automation systems.

The electrical systems on board submarines are tested using various methods to ensure they operate safely and correctly, and do not affect other on-board systems. Test-rigs are utilised to trial equipment and new designs before products are sent for installation.

Simulation

Simulators are manufactured to resemble the onboard reactor control panel. As well as being used to test new control system designs, simulators also allow equipment designers to look at the human factors of the design and determine whether it enables the operators to work efficiently.

A graphical user interface provides rapid access to a range of instructor controls, malfunctions and utilities. It can also emulate the function of complex panels and instrumentation. This screen-based solution is a low-cost alternative to real world equipment; it has been successfully integrated with real time models as part of a computer-based training package.

Design & methods

A wide variety of electrical, controls and instrumentation products are designed, installed and supported on civil and submarines reactor systems. Such a broad range, embodying different levels of complexity, demands the use of a variety of design methods in order to ensure the high performance of our electronics.

The design of the reactor control and instrumentation system can be categorised as hardware and software design.
Hardware design involves utilising design techniques and computer simulation packages to develop the reactor control system architecture. It also involves the design of sub-systems including power systems and sensors.
Software design involves requirements-modelling and the use of code generators.

The design of these products needs to be approved ahead of the production and assembly. Product designs progress sequentially through a gated ‘production introduction and lifecycle management’ process to check that the design conforms to its specification at various stages of its development and journey to full maturity.

Materials

The choice of material for an electronic component is determined by a number of factors – notably safety, optimum performance and long life. Similarly, cables are chosen according to various influences such as the current required to flow through the circuit and the operational environment. This may call for resistance to steam, for example, if used in the reactor compartment.

Safety is a major consideration in determining the material for a component. Product safety is paramount, and materials are chosen to enhance the integrity and reliability of designs.

The management of materials used in the manufacture of specialist electrical equipment involves various techniques, controls and measurement processes to ensure equipment performs to design requirements. When traditional materials are phased out, performance data on alternative materials and their sources is investigated through a range of technology research and industrial collaborations.

Manufacturing

Relatively few electronic components are manufactured internally, so most electrical parts used in control and instrumentation systems are purchased.

Environmental impact

Designs seek to conform to governmental aims to reduce environmental impact by minimising the use of environmentally harmful materials. All asbestos and much cadmium has been eliminated. Manufacturing processes used to create circuits and form the materials used domestically have an inherently low environmental impact.

Electromagnetic interference between powerful and sensitive electronic components can have a range of unexpected, disruptive, and potentially dangerous effects on electronic systems. A wide array of testing, consultancy and training services is undertaken to assist designers and operators to deliver cost-effective compliance with the relevant standards and legislation.

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