Energy and Nuclear Power

Ecological Interface Design and Operator Situation Awareness in Nuclear Power Plants 

Duration: 2005 - 2007

As new technologies are introduced into the nuclear industry, there is increasing interest in replacing existing hardwired monitoring systems in nuclear power plant control rooms with innovative human-machine interface (HMI) graphical displays. However, investigations into past accidents at nuclear generating facilities have identified human performance limitations arising from HMI design as one of the most important factors in plant safety. Ecological Interface Design (EID) is a design methodology for HMI graphical displays that attempts to support operator performance for both anticipated and unanticipated events, which are often precursors to serious accidents.

The Advanced Interface Design Lab at the University of Waterloo and the Cognitive Engineering Laboratory at the University of Toronto collaborated with the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) to examine the application of EID and the effects on operator Situation Awareness (SA) in the Swedish Forsmark 3 boiling water reactor nuclear power plant. This project was part of the OECD Halden Reactor Project.

Related Publications: 

  1. Burns, C. M., Jamieson, G. A., Skraaning, G., Lau, N., & Kwok, J. (2007). Supporting situation awareness through ecological interface design. Proceedings of the 51st Annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (in press).
  2. Kwok. J. (2007). Ecological Interface Design for Turbine Secondary Systems in a Nuclear Power Plant: Effects on Operator Situation Awareness. Dissertation. Waterloo, Ontario: University of Waterloo, Department of Systems Design Engineering.
  3. Skraaning Jr., G., Lau, N., Welch, R., Nihlwing, C., Andresen, G., Brevig, L. H., Veland, Ø., Jamieson, G. A., Burns, C., & Kwok, J. (2007). The Ecological Interface Design Experiment (2005). Internal report (HWR-833), Halden Reactor Project.
  4. Welch, R., Braseth, A. O., Nihlwing, C., Skraaning Jr., G., Teigen, A., Veland, Ø., Lau, N., Jamieson, G., Burns, C., & Kwok, J. (2007). The 2005 Ecological Interface Design Process and the Resulting Displays. Internal report (HWR-847), Halden Reactor Project.
  5. Kwok, J. & Burns, C. M. (2006). Design of Advanced Graphical Displays for the Turbine-Generator Systems of the Forsmark 3 Simulator. 27th Annual Canadian Nuclear Society Conference. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
  6. Kwok, J. & Burns, C. M. (2006). Ecological interface design for the turbine subsystems of a boiling water reactor. 16th World Congress on Ergonomics: International Ergonomics Association (IEA). Maastritcht, The Netherlands.

Sponsors & Partners:

  1. NSERC Special Research Opportunities
  2. Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology 

Last Updated: April 22, 2014