Strategy for Implementation of Fixed and Mobile Wireless Technologies in Crowded and Confined EMI Environments of Nuclear Power Plants

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Analysis And Measurement Services Corporation
9119 Cross Park Drive
Knoxville, TN 37923
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Wireless technologies have increased efficiency in many industrial settings across the world by enabling a mobile workforce and improving communications. In fact, some studies project that wireless implementation could save nuclear facilities up to $6,000,000 per year in the maintenance department alone. Unfortunately, the nuclear power industry has been slow to adopt wireless technology as a result of safety, security, and reliability concerns expressed by regulators and others. This project sets out to address two significant technical concerns that still remain: 1) wireless electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) which refers to the ability of plant equipment to withstand wireless transmission, and 2) wireless coexistence which refers to the ability of different wireless devices to operate in the presence of one another. For wireless EMC, most equipment in nuclear power plants has never been tested for vulnerability to wireless transmission. As such, the impact of modern wireless devices to nuclear safety and plant reliability is not understood. In the case of wireless coexistence, there is currently no standard test method available to verify that various wireless devices such as sensors, cellphones, and laptop computers will function reliably when operating in close proximity to each other. The proposed work will provide new test methods and objective guidance for the nuclear industry in the two areas mentioned above and will develop a cognitive radio system for in-plant EMC and coexistence testing. The goal of this project will be accomplished through hands-on laboratory work at AMS state-of-the-art EMC facility. The work will include: 1) Identify vulnerabilities of nuclear plant equipment to wireless signals and determine mitigation strategies, 2) Evaluate signal characteristics of wireless devices through laboratory measurements, especially those that could cause susceptibility among plant equipment, and 3) Develop innovative methods to test for wireless EMC and coexistence in connection with the use of wireless technology in nuclear power plants. The knowledge acquired from these tasks will provide input to the design of a test system capable of generating and receiving signals from multiple wireless protocols to be developed in a Phase II for immunity and coexistence testing. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: The design of the cognitive radio system and associated test methods for wireless EMC and coexistence will allow for the seamless use of wireless technology in nuclear power plants while greatly reducing the risks they may introduce. This will ultimately extend to the general public in the form of safer nuclear power plants and lower cost of electricity.