Renewed partnership: Westinghouse, Emerson join for nuclear plants

By Control Engineering Staff December 5, 2007

Nuclear power plants (and many conventional power plants as well) are not known for their cutting-edge automation technology. Nuke plants have been particularly slow to adopt more modern approaches due to the strict controls placed on them by regulating bodies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). However, with new nuclear plants once again a real possibility, the time has come to make some serious automation upgrades. Emerson Process Management hopes to do its part by renewing an agreement with Westinghouse Electric to provide automation for the AP1000 plant design.

Westinghouse and Emerson recently announced a 10-year extension to an existing agreement in which Emerson will provide key technology for automation of nuclear power plants that utilize the Westinghouse AP1000 design. Westinghouse says the AP1000 is the only Generation III+ design for nuclear power plants to have received design certification from the NRC.

Westinghouse will use Emerson’s Ovation expert control and information system designed specifically to automate power generation. The Ovation system is a key component of Emerson’s PlantWeb digital plant architecture, and is designed specifically to control power generation processes. Emerson says these specialty functions include providing an operations and maintenance interface, and collecting and distributing plant-wide information for process and power generation management.

“This agreement, which is timely in light of the resurgence of nuclear power, ensures that existing and future Westinghouse customers can rely on Emerson’s Ovation technology for efficient and reliable control of the daily operations of these nuclear facilities,” says John Berra, president of Emerson Process Management, whose power & water solutions division reached the agreement.

Four Westinghouse AP1000 design plants have been contracted for construction in China. Moreover, the company says the AP1000 design has been selected as the basis for 12 advanced nuclear plants that could be built in the U.S. over the next 10 to 12 years.

Emerson and Westinghouse share a strong history, having worked together in addressing the needs of the nuclear market since Emerson’s acquisition of Westinghouse’s non-nuclear I&C business in 1998.

Westinghouse, now a group company of Toshiba, is a pioneer in the nuclear power industry and still a major supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse supplied the world’s first pressurized water reactor in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa.

—Edited by Peter Welander, process industries editor, , Control Engineering Weekly News