The nuclear industry is adopting virtual reality technology to optimize its operations and improve safety, as explained in a recent white paper from Tecknotrove Systems.
Although nuclear power plants are usually very safe, they are still prone to serious accidents or production losses due to human error. Virtual reality (VR) allows you to create realistic and immersive training environments related to nuclear power plants to train operators on how to perform tasks safely. VR training allows operators to practice a variety of situations, such as emergency evacuation, plant operation, fuel handling, leaks, and fires, in one virtual location. Because simulated environments feel extremely realistic, it creates a highly immersive experience to teach the right response in difficult situations.
Training in turbine maintenance
Periodic inspection and maintenance of a turbine generator are very important. However, carrying out practical training on the maintenance of the turbines and engines of a nuclear plant can be a challenge, thanks to the time it requires, the risks and the costs involved. RV allows maintenance engineers to be trained in a more attractive and safe way without the hassle of finding the actual equipment to be used during training. From assembly to turbine dismantling, to repair, a virtual environment helps technicians take several training steps and see all the parts working together before doing so on a real plant.
Training of operators for control room operations
The training of operators to manage crucial functions in the control room of a nuclear power plant is essential. RV has proven to be an effective and efficient training tool.
In order to improve the understanding of the principles of nuclear reactors, a simulator-based virtual reality system can be developed to relate to the scenarios of nuclear power plants. With VR, a nuclear power plant can provide an immersive training experience to its operators without affecting plant safety. Using RV, owners can simulate from basic operations to emergencies, with real-life stressors to make training very realistic.
Orientation of the nuclear power plant
Access to a nuclear power plant is restricted and is often not open to young engineers or visitors. VR allows engineers to perform activities within the plant, navigating freely to develop a better understanding of plant orientation without compromising safety.
Virtual tours of nuclear power plants allow visitors to experience the control room, dive into the reactor, or head to the turbine lobby and commutation garden.
Dismantling of nuclear power plants
Providing training to dismantle nuclear power plants is a long process. Virtual reality gives an idea of what reality is like in reactors. It is playing a critical role in team building to decommission the reactors. RV training can help workers at nuclear power plants at decommissioning sites by familiarizing them with the relevant steps in a safe and controlled environment. Training set in very realistic environments can help prevent accidents. The use of VR for workout training is also cost effective, as operators need disposable protective equipment for physical training, which can be extremely expensive. In some countries, decommissioning authorities have also begun to use VR-powered decommissioning solutions, as robots can work faster and are not affected by continuous exposure to radioactive elements.
It is necessary to train the equipment for operation and maintenance of fuel handling systems in a nuclear power plant. Safe handling of fuel assemblies is important to ensure proper operation. However, the configuration of fuel channels is complex and the training of engineers in real life can be complicated. Through computer simulations, the RV provides a safe and highly realistic environment where they can learn about fuel handling without being exposed to radiation or compromising the structural integrity of the reactor.
Scenario-based training for emergency preparedness
It is necessary to prepare for accidents and emergencies that may occur at a nuclear power plant. The laws of each country require nuclear companies to develop and maintain emergency preparedness plans for their nuclear power plants to protect the public. However, planning and managing this training can take a considerable amount of time and resources. Training in a simulated environment is important here. Emergency situations (loss of power supply, failure of emergency generators, failure of the cooling system or leaks) can be recreated in a virtual environment for training and testing purposes. Virtual environments allow users to test the proper operation of devices, tools, and procedures that will be used in different emergency situations and help maintain the level of preparedness of staff that would be involved in these emergencies.
In addition, RV allows you to test the response time and communication and decision-making skills of teams in emergency situations that could not be created in real life.
Most of the nuclear industry still uses mainly traditional training methods: computer-based training, with limited on-site training sessions. As a result, engineers are not always sure what to do in real life or in a real environment.
VR allows the creation and simulation of virtual worlds. These worlds immerse participants in the virtual environment as if it were a real nuclear power plant. In a virtual reality environment, participants can move around the plant in complete safety. Virtual reality controllers allow the participant to interact with virtual control panels, turbines and fuels in the virtual world, which is not possible in real training. Virtual reality training therefore allows for greater reproducibility and security.
It is also cost effective as multiple sessions can be performed at a relatively low cost. Studies have shown that virtual reality-enabled training has improved the overall responsiveness of people working at nuclear power plants.
Future of virtual reality in the nuclear industry
The best thing about virtual reality is that it allows for real-time collaborations and creates a precise immersive environment. For the assembly, operations, maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear power plants, training through VR can be used at all stages at a fraction of the cost of other options and with complete safety.
The nuclear industry can use VR training to increase efficiency and maximize operations. It is a safe way to form teams and attract young workers to the industry.
Tecknotrove Systems, one of the leading Asian virtual reality simulation companies, offers customized solutions to nuclear power plants in the areas of radiological safety, environmental control, radiological safety, air control and emergency management to solve the challenges real things the industry faces. Some of its existing customers include Department of Atomic Energy, BARC, NPCIL, to name a few.