Ecological Interface Design for Turbine Secondary Systems in a Nuclear Power Plant: Effects on Operator Situation Awareness
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Investigations into past accidents at nuclear power generating facilities such as that of Three Mile Island have identified human factors as one of the foremost critical aspects in plant safety. Errors resulting from limitations in human information processing are of particular concern for human-machine interfaces (HMI) in plant control rooms. This project examines the application of Ecological Interface Design (EID) in HMI information displays and the effects on operator situation awareness (SA) for turbine secondary systems based on the Swedish Forsmark 3 boiling-water reactor nuclear power plant. A work domain analysis was performed on the turbine secondary systems yielding part-whole decomposition and abstraction hierarchy models. Information display requirements were subsequently extracted from the models. The resulting EID information displays were implemented in a full-scope simulator and evaluated with six licensed operating crews from the Forsmark 3 plant. Three measures were used to examine SA: self-rated bias, Halden Open Probe Elicitation (HOPE), and Situation Awareness Control Room Inventory (SACRI). The data analysis revealed that operators achieved moderate to good SA; operators unfamiliar with EID information displays were able to develop and maintain comparable levels of SA to operators using traditional forms of single sensor-single indicator (SS-SI) information displays. With sufficient training and experience, operator SA is expected to benefit from the knowledge-based visual elements in the EID information displays. This project was researched in conjunction with the Cognitive Engineering Laboratory at the University of Toronto and the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) in Halden, Norway.