OPAL Research Reactor, Lucas Heights, Australia

OPAL Research Reactor, Lucas Heights, Australia

The Open Pool Australian Light-water reactor (OPAL) is a multipurpose facility particularly oriented toward radioisotope production. It is located in the city of Lucas Heights, 35 km south west... Read more

The three control systems

To achieve the highest safety and availability levels of the OPAL reactor, it has three completely independent systems:

  • First protection system.
  • Second protection system.
  • Control and monitoring system.

The first protection system is based on a state-of-the-art controller that monitors safety parameters to detect potentially dangerous conditions. Its main functions are to trigger the first shutdown system and to isolate the reactor containment system.

The second protection system of the reactor consists of a wiring system that monitors a different set of safety parameters.

Both systems have three independent and redundant measurement channels for each safety parameter.  

The control and monitoring system is based on a cutting edge computerized system with a high level of availability, which processes information in real time. It monitors the reactor and plant parameters and reports them to the main control room, the emergency control center and the local supervision centers.

The system functions:

  • The reactor power control.
  • Restraint actions (safety -related functions).
  • Plant control.
  • Reactor supervision and power plant status.
  • Interlock activation.
  • Alarm activation.
  • Events and signals recording.

Nuclear instrumentation

The neutron flux is monitored by the following set of measurement channels that cover the operating conditions of the reactor, from being switched off to being in full operation:

  • Start-up channel with three fission counters.
  • Wide range logarithmic channel with three fission chambers.
  • Power channel with three compensated ionization chambers.
  • Lineal channel that can automatically change ranges, with a fission chamber.
  • Nitrogen-16 channel with an ionization chamber.