As a result of nuclear power plant instrumentation and control obsolescence issues, there have been numerous activities during recent years relating to the qualification of digital equipment. Some of these activities have been “generic” in nature in that the qualification was not limited to plant specific applications, but was intended to cover a broad base of potential applications of the digital equipment. These generic qualifications have been funded by equipment manufacturers and by utility groups and organizations. The generic activities sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) have been pilot projects for an overall generic qualification approach. The primary benefit resulting from the generic qualification work to date is that a number of digital platforms and digital devices are now available for use in various nuclear safety-related applications. Many of the tests and evaluations necessary to support plant specific applications have been completed. The amount of data and documentation that each utility must develop on a case by case basis has been significantly reduced. There are also a number of additional benefits resulting from these industry efforts. The challenges and difficulties in qualifying digital equipment for safety-related applications are now more clearly understood. EPRI has published a lessons learned document (EPRI Report 1001452, Generic Qualification of Commercial Grade Digital Devices: Lessons Learned from Initial Pilots, which covers several different qualification areas, including device selection, project planning, vendor surveys and design reviews, and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) qualification. Application of the experience and lessons learned from the EPRI pilot activities should help reduce the effort and cost required for future qualification work. Most generic qualification activities for commercial equipment have been conducted using the approach of EPRI TR-106439, Guideline on Evaluation and Acceptance of Commercial Grade Digital Equipment for Nuclear Safety Applications, and the supplemental guidance of EPRI TR-107339, Evaluating Commercial Digital Equipment for High Integrity Applications. The U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has reviewed some of the qualification activities and reports and issued a number of Safety Evaluation Reports (SERs). Although some additional work may be required to support specific applications, the generic qualification activities and NRC reviews have provided significant clarification and further stabilized the regulatory environment for use of digital equipment in safety-related applications.

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