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The use of hidden Markov models for anomaly detection in nuclear core condition monitoring

Stephen, B. and West, G.M. and Galloway, S.J. and McArthur, S.D.J. and McDonald, J.R. and Towle, D. (2009) The use of hidden Markov models for anomaly detection in nuclear core condition monitoring. IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, 56 (2). pp. 453-461. ISSN 0018-9499

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Unplanned outages can be especially costly for generation companies operating nuclear facilities. Early detection of deviations from expected performance through condition monitoring can allow a more proactive and managed approach to dealing with ageing plant. This paper proposes an anomaly detection framework incorporating the use of the Hidden Markov Model (HMM) to support the analysis of nuclear reactor core condition monitoring data. Fuel Grab Load Trace (FGLT) data gathered within the UK during routine refueling operations has been seen to provide information relating to the condition of the graphite bricks that comprise the core. Although manual analysis of this data is time consuming and requires considerable expertise, this paper demonstrates how techniques such as the HMM can provide analysis support by providing a benchmark model of expected behavior against which future refueling events may be compared. The presence of anomalous behavior in candidate traces is inferred through the underlying statistical foundation of the HMM which gives an observation likelihood averaged along the length of the input sequence. Using this likelihood measure, the engineer can be alerted to anomalous behaviour, indicating data which might require further detailed examination. It is proposed that this data analysis technique is used in conjunction with other intelligent analysis techniques currently employed to analyse FGLT to provide a greater confidence measure in detecting anomalous behaviour from FGLT data.