"This is our first project for INL, and we look forward to making a solid contribution to this prestigious lab," said Michael Chatlani, vice president of marketing & sales for L-3 MAPPS Power Systems and Simulation. "It is rewarding that customers like INL recognize the flexibility and fidelity of our technology and are using our simulators for ‘beyond training’ applications."

"The INL is developing the state-of-the-art Human System Simulation Laboratory (HSSL), a key resource for testing emerging technologies for their application in nuclear power plant control rooms," said Dr. Ronald L. Boring, human factors principal scientist at INL. "At the heart of the HSSL is the L-3 MAPPS control room simulator, which can be used to develop and test the implementation of newer digital control room systems. Having the HSSL is a significant advancement that greatly enhances the DOE’s ability to support research on control room modernization."

The INL is working with numerous U.S. nuclear utilities to perform research related to extending the life of U.S. nuclear power plants through digital control room upgrades focused on human factors. The vision is to upgrade analog-based control rooms to digital-based control rooms, considering plant operation from a human factors perspective. To enable INL staff to design, develop and test digital prototype replacement human-machine interface displays, the INL will use nuclear power plant full-scale simulators with digital control room mimics of existing analog instrumentation and controls to accurately replicate the control room layout.

The INL is currently conducting research to support the upgrade of the main control room at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), a two-reactor plant operated by Southern California Edison Company. The existing SONGS simulator software, already using L-3 MAPPS’ platform and models, will be complemented by L-3 MAPPS’ Orchid® Touch Interface solution to provide an accurate representation of the control room environment using touch-screen technology to emulate the physical hard panels.

In addition, L-3’s Orchid Sound System will be included to provide realistic control room alarm sounds. The fully integrated simulator’s emulated control room will then be modified by INL to develop prototype control room variations. The prototypes will be evaluated using operator-in-the-loop testing, and basic operator performance principles will be disseminated to the industry. Utilities will then work with their plant vendors to apply research-derived principles as design recommendations for their specific needs.