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A Review of the Current State of FPGA Systems in Nuclear Instrumentation and Control

[+] Author Affiliations
Phillip McNelles, Lixuan Lu

University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, ON, Canada

Paper No. ICONE21-16819, pp. V006T16A057; 14 pages
  • 2013 21st International Conference on Nuclear Engineering
  • Volume 6: Beyond Design Basis Events; Student Paper Competition
  • Chengdu, China, July 29–August 2, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5583-6
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


A Field Programmable Gate Array, or FPGA, is a form of integrated circuit that is programmed (configured) after it has been built. These devices have recently become a topic of interest for various applications in the nuclear field. Most of the recent work put into these FPGA systems is for the purpose of Instrumentation and Control (I&C) systems, but other applications include health physics, particle detectors, and pulse measurement systems. These new FPGA based systems are thought of as possible replacements for older, analog systems that are commonly used in Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs). Many of these systems are becoming obsolete, and it can be difficult to repair and maintain them. FPGAs possess certain advantages over traditional analog circuits, as well as microprocessors, for nuclear I&C applications. This paper provides an extensive literature survey on the current research into FPGA-based systems in NPP applications, such as shutdown systems, neutron monitors, and feedwater controls. Current plans and plans for future FPGA implementations are also discussed. Research from different countries in North America, Europe and Asia is discussed, covering a variety of NPP types (CANDU, Pressurized Water Reactors, Boiling Water Reactors, etc.). The main companies and organizations involved in the FPGA research and development are examined, and a direction for future research is presented.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Instrumentation



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