Staffing and control are crucial considerations in the development and licensing of advanced reactors. Advanced reactors do not solve the challenges of human-in-the-loop control through full automation, and it is incorrect to assume that the control system of a new reactor is a tail-end design activity. The very viability of advanced reactor designs hinges on their ability to be economically competitive with fossil plants for producing electricity, and staffing is key to managing operational costs of future plants. Idaho National Laboratory has developed prototyping tools and capabilities to jumpstart control system development for advanced designs. Using simplified plant simulation models and visualization tools, it is possible to prototype control room designs and validate them using operator-in-the-loop evaluations. In this manner, the concept of operation may be developed in parallel with other aspects of reactor design. Along the way, key decisions on the staffing requirements and level of automation may be determined and demonstrated, allowing a clear path to licensing of advanced reactors.
Ronald Laurids Boring, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Scientist at Idaho National Laboratory, where he has led human factors research projects for agencies such as the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Defense. He and his research team developed the Guideline for Operator Nuclear Usability and Knowledge Elicitation (GONUKE) for conducting human factors in support of nuclear technologies, the Human Unimodel for Nuclear Technology to Enhance Reliability (HUNTER) for dynamic human reliability analysis, and the Advanced Nuclear Interface Modeling Environment (ANIME) for prototyping digital interfaces in nuclear power environments. He is the founder of the Human Systems Simulation Laboratory. Dr. Boring has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Carleton University. He was a Fulbright Academic Scholar to the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He has published over 250 research articles in a wide variety of human reliability, human factors, and human-system interaction forums. He is Chairperson for the Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society and Chair for the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.