Integrated System Test Capabilities

The CAER provides a state of the art thermal-hydraulic test loop with world-class instrumentation and control systems. When coupled with the high-tech INCONTROL simulation and I&C lab the combined facility also provides an excellent platform for cyber-physical testing. Future energy options will require validation of code modeling efforts, advanced instrumentation, advanced control systems, and licensing support. The CAER provides the IST and INCONTROL platforms to address these needs through an industry-university collaboration. A history of successful research has already been documented at these facilities. Some of these research areas include:

  • Pilot-Scale Thermal-Hydraulic Testing – R&D investment and programs supporting power systems safety and performance (i.e., thermal-hydraulics and process control) are generally separate-effects programs, hosted by national laboratories and universities. Notably, no existing public-supported facility is fully capable of addressing the present industry need.
  • Control Room Technology – The CAER’s INCONTROL and IST facility aims to provide research capacity to enable applied research in areas such as alarm systems, control room design, display navigation, and human performance. INCONTROL and IST also provides a platform for comparative testing of new digital technologies as well as resiliency research of digital platforms performing same or similar computing and control functions.
  • Advanced Sensors and Instrumentation – advanced sensors and instrumentation development is expected to be a primary mission for the CAER-IST and INCONTROL. In particular, continued progress in modeling and simulation requires data reflecting measures relatable to process-scale phenomena for validation.
  • Process-Scale Evaluations – High-pressure process-scale investigation is uniquely challenging as certain solutions possible at low pressure are not available at high pressure. Important system-scale figures-of-merit nominally available at the CAER IST include system pressure, core power, core thermocouple temperatures, and core inlet velocities.
  • Emulation of Coupled-Physics and Reduction of Process Uncertainties – Thermal-hydraulic measurement uncertainties are a strong function of process uncertainties. With variable-frequency-drive motor-operated pumps and valves under algorithmic control, target fluid conditions can be established at the CAER-IST with minimal variability.
  • Cyber-Security/Resilience – Plant threat/failure prevention and mitigation topics include Fault Tolerance, Resilience, Cyber Security, Human Factors, User Interfaces, Equipment Qualification and Survivability, and Digital I&C. While the data sought for these purposes is disparate from process-scale thermal-hydraulic phenomena, this community shares a common safety objective, measured by the same margins to safety criteria employed by the thermal-hydraulics safety community. This research serves to improve the capacitance of structures, systems, and components to physical loads, thermal- hydraulic or otherwise, through automation and “human-in-the-loop” frameworks.

Learn more about the IST facility: here.