Replacing the existing aging analog instrumentation and control (I&C) systems with modern safety control and protection digital technology offers one of the foremost means of performance improvements and cost reductions for the existing nuclear power plants (NPPs). However, the qualification of digital I&C systems remains a challenge, especially considering the issue of software common-cause failures (CCFs), which are difficult to address. With the application and upgrades of advanced digital I&C systems, software CCFs have become a potential threat to plant safety because most redundant designs use similar digital platforms or software in the operating and application systems. With complex designs of multilayer redundancy to meet the single-failure criterion, digital I&C safety systems (e.g., engineered safety-features actuation system [ESFAS]) are of a particular concern in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensing procedures. This paper applies a modularized approach to conduct redundancy-guided systems-theoretic hazard analysis for an advanced digital ESFAS with multilevel redundancy designs. Systematic methods and risk-informed tools are incorporated to address both hardware and software CCFs, which provide guidance to eliminate the triggers of potential single points of failure in the design of digital safety systems in advanced plant designs.

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