Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Nuclear Quality Assurance in University Research with Control System Design as a Case Study
by Kendrick, James Cunningham, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2019, 188; 27546189
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is focused on understanding the relationship between university research and commercial applications in the nuclear energy field, specifically through quality assurance in experimental nuclear engineering research in the Thermal Hydraulics Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. This dissertation includes the development of a novel control system for the Compact Integral Effects Test (CIET) Facility, including testing to demonstrate and validate the new design and implementation, which serves as a case study for the quality assurance approach developed here. Reproducibility, a necessary aspect of scientific investigation, and community, the relationships between the people and organizations involved in nuclear engineering research, are important themes that run throughout this dissertation.

Quality assurance practices are required in commercial nuclear energy applications and provide helpful guidance for achieving safe, reliable, and efficient utilization of nuclear energy and management and processing of radioactive materials. These practices may also be applied through a graded approach in research settings to support good scientific research, including reproducibility. Essential elements from the ASME NQA-1 nuclear quality assurance standard used in industry and from existing quality assurance practices in research environments are distilled and integrated into a new quality assurance program for the CIET Research Program within the Thermal Hydraulics Laboratory. A primary goal for this quality assurance program and all related implementation documentation is that they are applicable to a general set of university nuclear engineering research programs. The CIET quality assurance program can then be used to create a template for a quality assurance program useful for nuclear engineering research at universities, called the University Nuclear Quality Assurance (UNQA) Program. A wide adoption of the UNQA Program may lead to a broad community of university nuclear engineering laboratories and research groups that have chosen to implement quality assurance practices through the UNQA Program and who are committed to quality assurance in their research.

In this study of quality assurance in commercial and academic settings, the control system for a large, complex thermal hydraulics experimental facility, the CIET Facility, is designed, developed, tested, and used as a case study for the application of quality assurance practices in a university research setting. The major functions of the CIET control system are to collect and communicate data from instrumentation and system operation, control the heat input into the facility, control the fluid flow in the facility, control the heat extracted from the facility, and to allow an operator to control the facility in real time. These major functions are directly mapped to the major elements of the control system. A modular structure, task and state organization, and principles from object-oriented design are used in this dissertation to create a modular control system that is flexible for the end user, extensible for future development and expansion, and maintainable with the least effort (or cost) needed from students who are most likely not experts in the hardware and software used. To realize the CIET control system, the programming software LabVIEW is used in combination with hardware from the same parent company, National Instruments. The design and implementation of the CIET control system, both the hardware and LabVIEW code, are documented through two procedures designed to provide a record of the design process within the CIET quality assurance program. This research and thorough quality assurance integration for the CIET control system lays the foundation for its conversion into an advanced reactor test bed.

The CIET quality assurance program that will serve as the prototype for the UNQA Program, including the community of nuclear engineering research developed alongside it, and the foundational development of a control system needed for the conversion of the CIET Facility into an advanced reactor test bed are the primary goals of the research presented in this dissertation. An advanced reactor testbed is an excellent exploratory research and development tool for the university environment to test new ideas and concepts not ready for industrial development. A quality assurance program ensures this research and development both adheres to good scientific practices and is readily usable in more regulated spaces, such as national laboratories and in industry, and in other university research environments who wish to pursue similar goals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Peterson, Per F
Commitee: Auslander, David M, Fratoni, Massimiliano
School: University of California, Berkeley
Department: Nuclear Engineering
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nuclear engineering, Sociology, Mechanical engineering
Keywords: Community, Integral effects test, Integral test facility, Mechatronics, Quality assurance, Reproducibility
Publication Number: 27546189
ISBN: 9781658464574
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