Smar Supplies First Foundation Fieldbus System at Nuclear Plant

Ocone Nuclear Station - South Carolina, USA

Duke Energy Corporation is one of the largest energy suppliers of its kind in the Americas. Duke acquired Smar control equipment for Instrumentation and Control upgrades at one of its key base load nuclear power generation plants. The Oconee Nuclear Station is a three unit nuclear station located in South Carolina, USA. The Oconee Nuclear Station has generated more than 500 million MW/Hours of electricity for U.S. consumption since beginning operation in 1973.

Oconee Nuclear Station was the second U.S. nuclear station re-licensed for continued operation in addition to its current license of 40 years. Oconee has been re-licensed for operation of a total of 60 years. Oconee evaluated various technologies for the recent Instrumentation and Control upgrade application. Comparisons and technological reviews were made among the submitting suppliers regarding existing equipment offerings and instrumentation models to determine the appropriate application ensuring reliable operation and longevity. Smar met the requisites perfectly by supplying fieldbus technology as the solution for sustained operation for the extended licensing term. Also resulting from this innovative implementation, Duke Energy made significant improvements throughout the plant infrastructure overall relative to the components, personnel training and process control.

According to Mike Miller, Duke’s Electrical Engineering Supervisor in the Oconee Nuclear Station Major Projects organization, the company has benefited from the newly-acquired technology which enables field control capability not provided by previous numerical pneumatic equipment. In addition, it gained the benefit of on-line diagnostics and all the advantages that Foundation fieldbus brings to the management of resources, costs, downtime etc. “After 25 to 30 years of limited and somewhat piecemeal attempts with conventional analog and rudimentary digital Instrumentation and Control systems, the Foundation fieldbus system provided a remarkable level of stability to our process control loops and variables”.

Upgrades on one of the three reactors has been installed; with the additional two scheduled for December 2007 and 2008, respectively. The first reactor installation has a capacity for 64 segments, with a total of approximately 130 installed Foundation fieldbus components. The installation will allow for up to 600 fieldbus units per reactor, with more than 1800 available for the entire plant. “Key improvements were made on electrical, steam and flow measurement. This drew the attention of other nuclear stations interested in the system, and showed the real benefits of Foundation fieldbus in control rooms and not only for simple field control, as before,” added Miller. “As a result, the project for our new plant will include all the advantages that the Foundation fieldbus system can bring”, he stated.

Fernando Liboni, Smar Project Manager, explains that Duke Energy identified Smar as a versatile company capable of customizing the requirements for nuclear sector development. “All equipment underwent a series of tests that recognized and approved the applicability of the products and the entire system,” he adds.