Virtual reality in nuclear power plants. VR/AR training examples by Sensorama

VR is Set to Make Nuclear Energy Safer Than Ever

{Blog's body} 2020-07-29
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VR is Set to Make Nuclear Energy Safer Than Ever

VR in the nuclear power industry is a time-saving and cost-effective way of significant elimination of damages caused by human error.

According to the World Nuclear Association, as of March 2020, nuclear power forms about 10% of the world’s electricity, with 450 reactors providing 424 GW of power, making it the second-largest source of low-carbon power in the world.

A report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered that in 26 events that ended in fuel damage, 81 percent of the incidents were due to human error, and a primary factor was how they were trained. Although, human error can be eliminated by implementing new ways of employee training.

It can still be a controversial source of energy, but as nuclear power does not need to burn anything to create steam, it does not emit greenhouse gases like methane or CO2. Yet there are still risks of accidents. According to a macro analysis of the overall costs of nuclear accidents since 1975 the range of damages is worth anywhere from 14 to 8302 billion euros [1]. This is a significant amount of losses, but these costs are nothing compared to the lives of people and environmental impact, which we can observe many years following the accidents.

Humanity is yet to harvest the damages caused by the biggest nuclear power plant accidents in history, such as the Chernobyl and The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disasters, which have received the highest so far Level 7 event classification of the International Nuclear Event Scale.

virtual reality for nuclear

Investigating both disasters, it has been found out that the causes of the accident had been foreseeable, and thus, could be prevented. A report from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered that in 26 events that ended in fuel damage, 81 percent of the incidents were due to human error, and a primary factor was how they were trained. [2]

Although, the newest technologies give us hope. Human error can be eliminated by implementing new ways of employee training. Businesses in other industries have been rapidly improving from immersive learning, and the benefits can already be seen. So why does the nuclear energy industry should be any different?

vr for nuclear simulator

This might become one of the main industries where VR training can prove its worth. The fact that the exact work environment and situation can be represented as a virtual entity has a few massive benefits. The first and foremost is safety. Simulations of dangerous environments can be run as many times as needed until the employee can accomplish goals like refueling without ever being exposed to harmful radiation. From a financial standpoint, this approach to training is very effective because training sessions can be run back to back with no downtime for no extra cost. And the employee can do it on-the-job, which also is a time-saving and cost-effective approach.

There have already been several successful cases of using VR in nuclear power practices. For example, GE has developed a 3D representation of steam turbines that spin generators inside nuclear power plants. These animations are helping young engineers learn how to assemble and dismantle turbines that were often designed and installed before they were born. Also, Fortum, one of the largest power generation companies in the Nordics, has more recently begun using VR to build the world’s first dedicated virtual reality training room for control operators in their Loviisa power plant in Finland. It has dramatically improved the training time, as the physical simulators are usually fully booked, which doesn’t leave many possibilities for additional testing or evaluations. EnergoAtom, the biggest Ukrainian Nuclear Energy Generating Company, has integrated into their existing full-scale training simulator, previously provided by GSE Systems, a new module of the dynamic and interactive virtual reality control room for training operators created by Sensorama. This simulator allows employees of the company to train the correct sequence of action in case of emergencies.

There are still many other scenarios where the use of VR in nuclear power plants can improve staff efficiency, so we don’t see any reason not to turn to the cost-effective and time-saving ways of training, with the help of which both the industry and the employees would benefit. It’s high time your company starts a new technological era and train employees like never before. Schedule a consultation and we will get you covered with all the answers to the questions you have.

[1] – R. Bizet and F. Lévêque, “The Economic Assessment of the Cost of Nuclear Accidents,” in Resilience: A New Paradigm of Nuclear Safety, ed. by J. Ahn, F. Guarnieri, and K. Furuta (Springer, 2017), p. 79.

[2] “Human Performance Improvement Handbook – Volume 1: Concepts and Principles, US Department of Energy, DOE-HDBK-1028-2009, June 2009.

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