Purdue University Graduate School

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posted on 2023-08-03, 19:11 authored by Vasileios TheosVasileios Theos

Modern reactors promise enhanced capabilities not previously possible including integration with the smart grid, remote monitoring, reduced operation and maintenance costs, and more efficient operation. . Modern reactors are designed for installation to remote areas and integration to the electric smart grid, which would require the need for secure undisturbed remote control and the implementation of two-way communications and advanced digital technologies. However, two-way communications between the reactor facility, the enterprise network and the grid would require continuous operation data transmission. This would necessitate a deep understanding of cybersecurity and the development of a robust cybersecurity management plan in all reactor communication networks. Currently, there is a limited number of testbeds, mostly virtual, to perform cybersecurity research and investigate and demonstrate cybersecurity implementations in a nuclear environment. To fill this gap, the goal of this thesis is the development of a real-time cyber-physical testbed with real operational and information technology data to allow for cybersecurity research in a representative nuclear environment. In this thesis, a prototypic cyber-physical testbed was designed, built, tested, and installed in PUR-1. The cyber-physical testbed consists of an Auxiliary Moderator Displacement Rod (AMDR) that experimentally simulates a regulating rod, several sensors, and digital controllers mirroring Purdue University Reactor One (PUR-1) operation. The cyber-physical testbed is monitored and controlled remotely from the Remote Monitoring and Simulation Station (RMSS), located in another building with no line of sight to the reactor room. The design, construction and testing of the cyber-physical testbed are presented along with its capabilities and limitations. The cyber-physical testbed network architecture enables the performance of simulated cyberattacks including false data injection and denial of service. Utilizing the RMSS setup, collected information from the cyber-physical testbed is compared with real-time operational PUR-1 data in order to evaluate system response under simulated cyber events. Furthermore, a physics-based model is developed and benchmarked to simulate physical phenomena in PUR-1 reactor pool and provide information about reactor parameters that cannot be collected from reactor instrumentation system.


DOE Office of Nuclear Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (under contract DE-NE00009174)


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Nuclear Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Stylianos Chatzidakis

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Shripad Revankar

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Philip Evans