Computers today are used extensively in nuclear plants. The various applications include:

Photo by: J.A. Gonyeau

  • Take data from sensors in the field and display trends and ongoing system data, e.g. on a simplified system flow path diagram.
  • Provide alarms when sensors indicate abnormal conditions occur, e.g low water or oil pressures in supporting systems.
  • Take data from field sensors and calculate true nuclear power on continual basis (referred to as a calorimetric). This takes into account factors as heat lost by discharging water from the steam generator blowdown system, variation in steam pressure and its effect on steam flow rates.

Computers are not usually used in reactor protection applications to shutdown the reactor, except as an alternate to other, usually analog, systems. Because many lines of computer program code are used, the NRC's primary concern is to ensure that such applications could never fail. A limited number of applications of this type have been authorized in U.S. plants.

Copyright 1996-2004.  Joseph Gonyeau, P.E.. The Virtual Nuclear Tourist. All rights reserved. Revised: March 15, 2001.