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Odetics to Create 'Smart' System to Monitor N-Plants

September 26, 1987|MARIA L. La GANGA | Times Staff Writer

Odetics, an Anaheim maker of robotics and intelligent computers, won a federal contract to create an intelligent system that will run the critical heat-removal process in nuclear reactors.

The so-called "expert system" will be like having an authority on hand 24 hours a day to sift through mounds of data, detect problems, tell power-plant workers how to fix the problems and explain to them the advice it gives, said Odetics spokesman Bill Prichard.

He refused to disclose the value of the research and development contract with the Department of Energy, adding that work on the system should be completed in May, 1989.

Odetics will design a computer program that oversees residual heat-removal operations during plant refueling. During refueling, the temperature and pressure inside the reactor are lowered by running coolant around it. Although the plant is shutting down during this process, Prichard said, heat still is being generated. The Odetics system will monitor the process for problems.

This should save power companies money, Prichard said, because, "should the expert system detect a minor problem, it can be corrected so that a shut-down of unscheduled duration is not necessary."

The system will collect data on reactor temperature, pressure and rate of coolant flow, feed that information into the computer and detect such problems as failure of coolant pumps, Prichard said.

The system will not detect problems such as the one that caused the near meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in 1979. But company officials hope the system's technology can be used for problem-solving at the plants, Prichard said.

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