Advanced small modular reactors (AdvSMRs) will use advanced digital instrumentation and control systems, and make greater use of automation. These advances not only pose technical and operational challenges, but will inevitably have an effect on the operating and maintenance cost of new plants. However, there is much uncertainty about the impact of AdvSMR designs on operational and human factors considerations, such as workload, situation awareness, human reliability, staffing levels, and the appropriate allocation of functions between the crew and various automated plant systems. Existing human factors and systems engineering design standards and methodologies are not current in terms of human interaction requirements for dynamic automated systems and are no longer suitable for the analysis of evolving operational concepts. New models and guidance for operational concepts for complex socio-technical systems need to adopt a state-of-the-art approach such as Cognitive Systems Engineering (CSE) that gives due consideration to the role of personnel. The approach described here helps to identify and evaluate human challenges related to non-traditional operational concepts. A framework for defining operational strategies was developed based on an analysis of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II), a small (20MWe) sodium-cooled reactor that was successfully operated for thirty years. Insights from the application of the systematic application of the methodology and its utility are reviewed and arguments for the formal adoption of CSE as a value-added part of the Systems Engineering process are presented.

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