First digital safety system upgrade for the US nuclear power sectorS. Himmelstein | January 20, 2022
A $50 million cost-shared award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will enable the Limerick Generating Station, operated by Exelon Generation in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, to become the first U.S. nuclear power station to upgrade to a fully digital safety system. Control room digitalization will provide automation, decrease system interruptions, improve performance and reduce costs.
Exelon has contracted Westinghouse Electric Company to replace the analogue-based reactor protection system — the plant's primary safety system — and several other systems with a single plant protection system. The main control room will feature digital displays and annunciators similar to those found in Westinghouse's Generation III+ AP1000 plant.
Limerick houses two boiling water reactors, the 1,158 MWe Unit 1 and the 1,159 MWe Unit 2, which began commercial operation in February 1986 and January 1990, respectively. The project will be the first fully digital safety system modernization using the new ISG-06 Alternate Review Process protocol, which optimizes the process of licensing digital safety system upgrades.
The upgrade results are expected to be directly applicable to other U.S. boiling water reactors, which make up about one-third of the country's existing nuclear fleet and will also inform digitalization efforts at pressurized water reactors. Advanced reactor developers will be able to apply the lessons learned to future reactor demonstrations.