Instrumentation and Control (I&C) systems for Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) are exceedingly complicated electronic solutions that include thousands of different components such as microcontrollers, Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), integrated circuits etc. Deployment of such safety-critical systems cannot be performed without complex safety and reliability assessment, verification and validation (V&V) activities that are addressed to exposing of overlooked faults. The examples of such activities are Fault Tree Analysis (FTA), Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Fault Injection Testing (FIT). Due to complexity of NPP I&C systems in most cases the process of assessment is very time consuming and the results mostly depend on experts’ qualification.
Traditional safety and reliability assessment methods are being constantly modified and enhanced so as to comply with increasing demands of national and international standards and guidance, as well as to be applied for I&C systems that contain number of complex components like FPGA.
Although much work related to analysis of FPGA-based systems has been performed, there is a lack of detailed technique for FPGA-based I&C systems failure identification that considers probability of several faults at the same time (multi-faults), development of preventive strategies for controlling or reducing of the risk related to such failures, as well as automation of this technique so as to make it utilizable for real NPP industry tasks.
FIT as verification for Failure Modes, Effects and Diagnostics Analysis (FMEDA) was used during Safety Integrity Level 3 (SIL3) certification process of RadICS NPP I&C platform, while the parts of proposed technique were used as internal verification and validation activities applied on several modules of the platform.