Next Generation Reactors: Case Study

An innovative and collaborative partnership

Paragon has a strategic focus on supporting advanced reactors and received an opportunity to demonstrate a new Neutron Flux Monitoring System at a medical isotope facility.

The procurement detail

This project was awarded to Paragon for a variety of reasons:

  • Paragon was ready with the talent and knowledge base to execute the project because of the strategic initiatives around advanced reactors.
  • Paragon provided the client a partner that collaborated to understand the unique needs of the project and innovated existing designs to match those needs.
  • From this project, Paragon has designed and will install new analog neutron flux monitoring systems (NFMS) for the new generation Advanced Reactors and SMRs.

Lasting beneficial impacts for both the client and Paragon

As a result of this project, Paragon will demonstrate an operating Neutron Flux Monitoring System, providing a key technology demonstration supporting neutron flux monitoring projects. The client received an Innovative NFMS system that took advantage of their existing I&C architecture. This reduced space requirements which provided critical equipment volume back to an already packed equipment room.

A focus on project deliverables

For custom Design Engineering scopes such as this, Paragon utilizes internal procedure QAP-03, which includes design reviews and design verification. Design Engineering includes the creation of the project-specific drawings of the item in accordance with ENG-08 and SOP-ENG-016. Paragon works this scope in accordance with our written procedures. The Project Execution Plan outlines the steps and processes for this type of design project.

The following documents will typically be generated during the design process:

  1. Project Management Plan (PMP) – The plan used for outlining the overall project scope, Codes Standards and specifications, Deliverables and Milestones, Staffing and Responsibilities, Resource Allocation, Work Breakdown Structure, Project Schedule, Communication Plan, Quality Management Plan, Risk Management Plan, and Project Assumptions.
  2. Design Management Plan (DMP) – The plan used for outlining the design process of individual deliverable units and defining the critical characteristics related to design inputs and interfaces. This document also contains an FMEA table.
  3. Design Drawings – Various drawings are developed to document the Paragon design such as a schematic, bill of material, layout, and mechanical drawings/assemblies.
  4. Build Traveller – This is used for maintaining control over and guiding the build and testing process.
  5. Acceptance Procedures – This is the individual test procedure used for functionally testing the assembled units, including exercising all inputs and outputs to appropriate levels.

We Serve The Next Generation Reactors Market



Nuclear Propulsion: Case Study

As an essential supplier to America’s security that supports U.S. Nuclear Propulsion platforms with our mission-critical products and services, Paragon is proud to support the U.S. Navy.

Paragon has provided a wide range of services of this key military department within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

Support of Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programs (NNPP)

The DOD collaborated as part of a joint program with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA maintains cradle-to-grave responsibilities for the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programs and covers both ground-based facilities and sea-based platforms. Paragon serves the NNPP with First of a Kind (FOAK) and custom-designed applications to support the unique operating conditions of the U.S. nuclear fleet.

Custom design success

The Navy looks to Paragon for support in the qualification and dedication of the hundreds of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) items required in critical applications. COTS products are ready-made, packaged solutions literally bought off-the-shelf and then be adapted by the end-user to meet a project’s needs.

Paragon’s success with custom-designed equipment ranges from the areas of valves and electrical and I&C equipment, to the contracting of Paragon for qualification activities to support the equipment of other OEMs for the platforms.  Due to the sensitive nature of projects to support the NNPP, design specifics are not included.

Leaders in qualification & dedication

The Navy utilizes Paragon for qualification and dedication services to support replacement parts for the intellectual property we have previously provided over the years.

With each new custom design project performed for the Navy, Paragon is positioned to support the division’s nuclear propulsion platforms for many years to come.

We Serve The Nuclear Propulsion Market



DOE: Case Study

As an essential supplier of mission-critical products and services that support the U.S. the Department of Energy (DOE), Paragon has worked on a range of projects.

Remediation sites

Paragon works closely with the DOE Environmental Management Office (EM) on Remediation Site projects, with the mission to complete the safe cleanup of five decades of weapons development and nuclear energy research.

Supporting efforts since the early 2000s, Paragon provides custom-designed equipment for new construction of cleanup facilities such as the Waste Treatment Plant (Washington) and Savannah River Site (South Carolina).

Test reactor locations

Paragon supports existing DOE test reactors at locations such as the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Labs. Paragon is actively involved in maintaining and upgrading equipment in these vital facilities, which are key to the research and testing of new fuels and materials. The ATR and more than two dozen other training and test reactors throughout the country support the advancement of carbon-free nuclear power in the U.S. and abroad.

Mission-critical components & services

Qualification & dedicationDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), managing eight sites across the nation, looks to Paragon’s support for the mission of the NNSA which is in part to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile.  Paragon provides mission-critical components and services to facilities such as Los Alamos National Labs and Naval Nuclear Laboratory.

DOE facilities request Paragon’s expertise in the qualification and dedication of the hundreds of COTS (Commercial, off-the-shelf) items required in QL-1 applications. Paragon’s success with custom-designed equipment ranges from the areas of consumable items, valves, and electrical/electronic equipment, to the contracting of qualification activities to and support the equipment of other OEMs.

We Serve The DOE Market



Commercial Nuclear: Case Study

Lowering operating costs of the largest US operator

The largest US Nuclear Power Plant operator uses all facets of Paragon’s nuclear inventory program to lower operating costs and reduce inventory.
Paragon provided RAPID Response, Investment Recovery, and Catalog Health services to deliver real inventory reductions. Here are a few examples of this success:

  • As a participant in the RAPID Response program, Paragon helped this utility increase sales by 50%, selling $4M of inventory to other nuclear power plants since program inception.
  • Through our unique Investment Recovery program, the utility averaged a return of 30% for material scrapped and sold by Paragon. The utility averages $400K of yearly commission payments for sales from the Paragon warehouse of their material.
  • Paragon screened and identified 25,000 potential duplicate CATIDs in the utility catalog; 8,600 duplicate CATIDs were consolidated by the Paragon team with 7,200 CATIDs demonstrated as unique. This consolidation effort will save the utility $1.25M each year through avoided purchases and reduced part stocking levels.

Material Cost Reduction Programs

In 2017, Paragon was selected to lead the Material Cost Reduction (MCR) Program for the Utility Service Alliance (USA). This program, based on Delivering the Nuclear Promise EB 16-30, is focused on strategies to reduce costs, while maintaining the level of safety and reliability expected for the nuclear industry. To help USA members achieve their cost savings goals, Paragon deployed multiple programs and technologies working under composite project management. Paragon and USA worked together to achieve over $9M in savings by identifying Reverse Engineering opportunities, thereby reducing plant modifications and costly digital upgrades.

A great demonstration of helping USA members achieve their cost-saving goals is our documented plant savings of $7.9 million. “Plant Engineering, working with Paragon, identified an alternative option that could be completed to not only sustain the current product line but provide the plant significant cost savings by eliminating the need for the modification. As a result, Paragon ensured the availability of spare units in the plant inventory, refurbishment of the electronic units (EGM and the ramp generator signal converter [RGSC]), and the actuator (EGR), and reverse engineered EGM and RGSC units from Paragon.” (MCR Program for the Utility Service Alliance)

Though improved circuit card repair management, Paragon helped USA members save $100K per year at each site. To achieve this, Paragon used USA member data and developed an I&C circuit card repair program that gave USA members access to needed cards while reducing the number of cards in stock. Paragon helped sites identify correct min/max levels and identify cards as repairable so that new cards are not needed. Additionally, Paragon identified obsolete circuit cards common among members so that inventory could be shared and obsolescence risk mitigated.

Using the nuclear inventory management program, Paragon saved USA members $200K over 12 months by enabling them to share inventory as if they are a common ERP platform. Analysts look at part demand from USA sites and match that demand to overstock inventory at other USA member sites. Using this approach, part costs and lead times are reduced while members reduce site inventory and sell excess spare parts.

The bottom line is there is not a one-size-fits-all material cost reduction plan. A company’s plan must be tailored to its specific needs and the culture should drive the entire organization to ask the question, “Is there an alternative solution that could save the company money?”

The answer is that the savings add up quickly from inventory optimization, reverse engineering, and other sourcing.

We Serve The Commercial Nuclear Market



Qualification: Case Study

Finding solutions to address unique challenges

For this particular ASME Section III / Harsh Qualification case example, Paragon’s client was a Canadian eight-unit nuclear power plant.

The scope of work for this project was extensive and included design and harsh qualification of double Isolation, ASME Section III poppet valves for plant life extension activity.

This was a new design for our team and partner and included ASME Section III, harsh environment qualification. TSA registration was required.

There were some additional challenges:

  • There was an existing OEM strong presence Paragon had to provide a superior technical solution with commercially competitive pricing and attractive schedule
  • During the initial design review, the existing valve design was discovered to be inadequate for the required application
  • There was the presence of an outside design engineering firm which meant Paragon had to work with the client’s internal and external engineering teams. This presented additional design approval challenges due to differing specification interpretations.  Strong, continuous communication resolved differences and resulted in a superior end design.

Finding and customizing the ideal solution

The client considered two competing design options in this case, and the Paragon valve design was selected for several reasons.  One important reason was due to Paragon’s ASME III program and the harsh program at one facility. As well, it was important to the client to utilize a Canadian manufacturer. But the biggest reason for the selection of Paragon’s chosen solutions was for the superior overall value.

The details of the chosen valve solution with 32 total valves include:

  • ASME III material and design
  • Valve design review exposed flaws with existing design
  • Updated design to meet new performance requirements
  • A close-working relationship with Paragon, the client, and other stakeholders in the finalization of the new design

The defined scope of work was broad and included:

  • ASME Section III Certificate of Authorization (N Stamp)
  • Thermal Aging
  • Radiation
  • Cycling
  • Seismic
  • LOCA
  • TSA registration

An outstanding end result

Upon completion of the project, the customer found immediate benefits.

First and foremost, cost savings were realized in both the short term as well as over the longer term. For the client, the new valve design met specifications and passed all reviews. The new valve design developed will be utilized for the four remaining units.

As well, the client was appreciative of Paragon’s thorough design review exposed existing design flaws and the Paragon team corrected the issues with the design and still provide an economically attractive solution.

Equipment Qualification: 30 Years And Counting



Custom Design: Case Study

Driving needed results for a needed plant computer upgrade

In this case example, a data acquisition and monitoring system manufactured by RTP had been installed in the plant for many years. It handled a variety of analog current loop input signals and dry contact monitoring. The original system was procured as safety-related and had become obsolete.

The objective was to upgrade the system to a model in current production, but the plant also wanted to re-classify it as non-safety-related so that it could be procured commercially. An isolator system was required to be installed between the 1E signals coming in, and the new non-1E plant computer. An additional objective was to minimize the amount of fieldwork and plant labor cost.

Identifying a plan to overcome upcoming challenges

The plant computer system handles a large quantity of signals, and the isolator system was specified to handle a minimum of 100 analog signals and 200 dry contacts, with a total of four identical systems being supplied to the plant. A system using off-the-shelf components would be large, expensive, and would likely have a long lead time due to the quantities required.

The isolator system was required to provide IEEE 384 isolation between the 1E signal inputs and the non-1E signal outputs, while maintaining analog signal integrity from input to output. It must prevent the propagation of any postulated fault on the non-1E side to the 1E circuits.

The isolator system was required to meet seismic qualification (IEEE 323, 344) and EMC requirements (EPRI TR-102323), including emissions and susceptibility. Surges and transients occurring on the non-1E side of the isolator were not allowed to be transmitted to the 1E side, to prevent the 1E signals from being affected.

A tight frame? Paragon can deliver.

In addition to these technical challenges, and due to a previous vendor’s inability to deliver the product, the lead time on the order was extremely expedited: only four months to complete the design and qualification and deliver four complete isolator systems.

The solution provided by Paragon consisted of custom-designed isolators and associated power supplies, built from the ground up to meet the nuclear isolation and qualification requirements.

Paragon designed a compact isolator system that could be built and supplied in the required timeline by producing custom circuit board assemblies and using off-the-shelf rack enclosures. By manufacturing the system in Paragon’s NQA-1 production facility, the team leveraged resources for a quick turn manufacturing run.

The system was designed for IEEE 384 isolation function, which is accomplished by separating the 1E and non-1E interfaces and providing maximum isolation. The isolator system also provides channel-to-channel isolation.

Streamlining the work process

To minimize fieldwork, the isolator’s electrical interfaces were tailored to the existing connectors on the plant computer and the new connectors on the replacement plant computer. The 1E side of the isolators was designed so that the existing terminal blocks and cable assemblies that were connected to the card edge interfaces of the plant computer, were able to remain in place and were simply unplugged from the plant computer and plugged into the isolator after it was installed. The non-1E side of the isolators followed the D-sub connector pinout of the replacement plant computer, which allowed the cabling from the isolators to the new plant computers to be implemented with off-the-shelf D-sub cables.

This meant that the system only required a small quantity of cables to be plugged into the new system, along with a handful of discrete wires for the power supplies—as opposed to the hundreds of wires that would need to be installed and verified if the original cabling and connectors were not reused (typically three wires per analog signal for +, -, and shield; two wires per dry contact—a total of approximately 700 wires per system!).

The compact design of the analog and dry contact isolator systems only occupies a total of 8U of rack space each—6U for the isolator card rack and 2U for the power supplies—that’s only 14” of vertical space for either the analog isolator system with up to 104 analog signals, or the dry contact isolator system with up to 208 contacts.

Lasting and substantial results

The isolator system provided by Paragon saved time and money for the customer. The innovative design solved the challenges faced by the customer and met all specification requirements and is currently in use by the plant. The system is low maintenance, can be tested and adjusted by the plant if needed, and will be supported long-term by Paragon, who is committed to the future of the nuclear industry. The isolator system provides a rugged, proven basis for future I&C designs for nuclear power plants.

This is just one example of why Paragon is the Nuclear Industry’s most trusted supplier.

Find Out More About Our Custom Design



Instrumentation & Control: Case Study

Substantial cost-saving solutions: $500,000/site

Paragon has long-standing relationships with many utilities, built from years of providing hard-to-find components, outage support, and general sourcing solutions.

One such utility approached the Paragon team to find a source for existing Woodward governor parts (the governors are used to control the speed of a turbine). The plant site was a two-unit site with only one unit operating, and over the years, the operating plant had salvaged parts from the other unit. When the plant decided to restart the second unit, it was discovered that several of the Woodward governor parts on the Terry turbine were obsolete.

The utility wanted to use identical controls within the two plants. However, the OEM developed a digital controller and discontinued support of the installed equipment. Discovering there was a depletion of available parts in the surplus market, the Paragon Instrumentation & Control Lab (I&C) pursued reverse engineering of the critical Woodward parts.

In order to begin this process, previously used and qualified Woodward parts were obtained from the utility and from our expansive warehouse for use as specimens for the reverse engineering and replication process.

Engineering and design are key drivers

We chose to reverse engineer and replicate the original controls to support the customer. The reverse engineering process involves redrawing a system schematic by tracing every electrical connection of the sample, identifying all of the discrete components, generating Gerber files to manufacture circuit boards, measuring mechanical components, composing manufacturing drawings, analysis of electrical and mechanical components, procuring necessary parts, assembling, and testing. At the conclusion of testing a successful prototype, engineering equivalency reports and dedication plans are generated and submitted to the customer for their approval.

Although this is a single example of the many configurations of this EGM box, Paragon’s I&C Lab has repaired many of these controls in addition to converting one configuration to another.

Creative solutions as the process continues

Another component that comprises the governor control system is the ramp generator and signal converter. The replicated version performs identically to the original version.

This customer also needed a manual speed controller, but unfortunately, a sample could not be located for reverse engineering. Instead, our I&C Lab used customer photos and OEM drawings to manufacture and qualify (both electrically and seismically) a controller to fit the application.

An overspeed monitor was the final component necessary to complete the control system. The unit was obsolete and was reverse-engineered using a sample from our warehouse. The OEM enclosure was originally cast out of aluminum and we determined it was more economical to manufacture the enclosure out of aluminum block. Paragon generated a manufacturing drawing and had the enclosure manufactured to within 5% of the weight of the original enclosure.

Just one example of Paragon’s reverse engineering solutions

In addition to solving the utility’s obsolescence issue, Paragon has the ability to supply new reverse engineered Woodward governor components for other nuclear and non-nuclear utilities around the world. The Woodward governor components are a small example of the team’s reverse engineered and manufactured products I&C Lab capabilities.

Several utilities have addressed the obsolete part issues for the Woodward governor system by modifying their entire governor control system with an OEM digital upgrade. However, these modifications may take years to implement. Paragon supports the original analog control system until such upgrades are improved and installed.

This is just another example of the innovative solutions offered to our customers to maintain the safe operations of the nuclear plant fleets worldwide – and in this case, Paragon saves utilities $500,000/site with the Woodward governor reverse-engineered solution.

The Best Way To Mitigate Obsolescence