UNENE workshop focuses on cyber-security for nuclear power plants

Image of participants at UNENE I&C Workshop at CANDU Energy Inc.
Western Engineering News | November 14, 2016

On November, 11th, university researchers, industry experts and representatives from the Canadian nuclear industry gathered together at CANDU Energy, a subsidiary company of the Montreal-based global engineering giant, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. for the 12th Annual University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) Workshop on Instrumentation and Control Systems for Nuclear Power Plants. Over 30 participants attended this event, totaling the largest attendance to date since the first gathering in 2005. The theme for this year’s workshop was cyber-security for nuclear power plants.

This annual event was organized by Jin Jiang, a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Western and the NSERC/UNENE Senior Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Instrumentation and Control. The newly appointed UNENE President, Jerry Hopwood, delivered the opening remarks followed by the President of The CANDU Owners Group (COG), Fred Dermarkar who made an interesting presentation on the perspective of human factors for safe operation of nuclear power plants. Dr. Majid Borairi, the Principal Engineer at CANDU Energy hosted the event.

‘This event presents an outstanding opportunity for university and industry collaboration and information exchange," said UNENE President, Jerry Hopwood.  "It sets an excellent example for other NSERC/UNENE IRCs."

Jiang and members of his team presented their latest research progress during the event and representatives from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), and CANDU Energy shared their knowledge and experience on cyber-security, advanced instrumentation, measurement and control technologies.  One of the highlights in this year’s workshop was a tour of a mock-up Main Control Room for future CANDU plants. Fully digitalized control panels have been used to replace traditional hardware control buttons, switches, and display units.

Image of mock up Main Control Room at CANDU Energy Inc.
Tour of a mock-up Main Control Room at CANDU Energy Inc.

Founded in 2002, UNENE was created as a partnership between industry and universities.  UNENE is now a well established and fully functional framework with programs mainly focusing on education and research serving the industry at large.   Through this NSERC/UNENE Senior Industrial Research Chair (IRC), Dr. Jiang has successfully trained over 60 HQPs over the last 13 years.

In September, it was announced that SNC-Lavalin signed an initial memorandum of understanding with China National Nuclear Corp. to build an Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR) in China and elsewhere around the world. In the meantime, major refurbishments are going on in OPG Darlington Nuclear Power Stations and an imminent plan for refurbishments for unit B in Bruce Power is in the works. This Workshop is a timely event as resurgence of nuclear activities in Canada is about to occur.

Industrial partners of UNENE include Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Bruce Power (BP), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), while Western University is one of 12 Canadian universities partnered with the UNENE.

For more information about the workshop, please contact Dr. Jin Jiang at jjiang@eng.uwo.ca