Technology Update

Our partners share our entrepreneurial, technological, and philanthropic spirit, and Ultra Electronics Energy (Ultra) is among the best of them. Going back to 2015, NuScale and Ultra announced our first strategic partnership to support deployment of the NuScale small modular reactor (SMR) fleet worldwide. The agreement allowed Ultra to take an equity position in NuScale and was invaluable to bring their expertise in reactor protection system design, nucleonic instrumentation, nuclear qualified sensors and associated in-core, specialty cabling to the NuScale design team. Today, Ultra systems are installed at more than 500 nuclear plants and facilities around the world, and Ultra sensors protect more than 180 of the world’s reactors.

NuScale Power and Ultra have continued pioneering work over the years and are proud to announce the latest technological breakthrough from this collaboration. In January 2019, we unveiled a new safety display and indication system using field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology. This remarkable advancement represents the first application of FPGA technology for real time display and monitoring in the U.S. commercial nuclear industry. Building upon the development of the Module Protection System, the safety display and indication system is the next step in how NuScale is reimagining nuclear instrumentation and control systems in partnership with Ultra’s Texas-based subsidiary team.

Man working in front of simulator monitors

The display system shows critical safety-related plant data in high resolution, high fidelity graphics for each of a NuScale plant’s 12 power modules, with dedicated displays for each reactor. The displays will receive input from NuScale’s Module Protection System and will not only enhance the already unparalleled safety of a NuScale Power Plant, but also continue to demonstrate the innovation that NuScale brings to the industry.

“NuScale’s plant design brings superior safety features that are revolutionizing nuclear safety, and we’re proud to pioneer the use of FPGA technology in a groundbreaking application for our safety display system,” said NuScale Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer José Reyes. “We continue to make significant progress in the development of NuScale’s state-of-the-art digital instrumentation and control systems, as we build our systems from the ground up to meet technical, safety, and regulatory criteria. Applying smarter, more efficient technology in this new context is not only great news for our company, but also for the U.S. nuclear industry as a whole.” 

The innovative digital display system has the capability to present safety-related reactor data in real-time, is configurable with multi-color, high-resolution graphics up to 1080p, and can graphically display historical data trends over a defined period. Use of FPGA technology also means a simpler, more efficient and predictable design: the safety display and indication system can show plant data without using microprocessors, operating systems, or software in the runtime environment. In addition, the advanced design has improved obsolescence tolerance and reduced cyber security attack vectors compared to other digital display systems currently available. Overall, the benefits have led to a more predictable and efficient safety justification process.

“These exceptional new safety displays show what is possible when two innovative companies come together and reimagine what the future of nuclear instrumentation and control systems can be,” said Ultra’s Vice President of Strategy Mark Ealing. “Ultra is proud to contribute to the success of America’s leading small modular reactor technology.” 

We are proud to be working with our partners at Ultra to revolutionize commercial nuclear in the U.S. and journey forward, together, to change the power that changes the world.