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How to Choose the Best Rapid Prototyping Method

How to Choose the Best Rapid Prototyping Method

As new products are designed, including ...

Monitoring Valve Health via the Internet

Monitoring Valve Health via the Internet

Most valve end users are already using s...

Valves in Oxygen Service

Valves in Oxygen Service

In his presentation at VMA’s 2017 ...

Thermal Spray Coating

Thermal Spray Coating

Q: What are the pros and cons of us...

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Industry Headlines

Crane Co. Reports Second Quarter Results

Tuesday, 25 July 2017  |  Chris Guy

Crane Co. reported second quarter 2017 earnings of $1.14 per diluted share, compared to $1.15 per share in the second quarter of 2016. Excluding Specia...

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The Actuation Selection Process

The Actuation Selection Process

Tuesday, 25 July 2017  |  Carlos Gamero

A common misconception in our industry is that actuating a valve is as simple as putting the most cost-efficient actuator on top of your valve of choi...

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Industry Headlines

Crane Co. Reports Second Quarter Results

-1 DAYS AGO

Crane Co. reported second quarter 2017 earnings of $1.14 per diluted share, compared to $1.15 per share in the second quarter of 2016. Excluding Special Items, second quarter 2017 earnings per diluted share were $1.17, compared to $1.21 per share in the second quarter of 2016.

Second quarter 2017 sale...

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Badger Alloys Joins VMA as Associate Member

7 DAYS AGO

This week the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) welcomes Badger Alloys as an official associate supplier member. This is VMA’s fourth new member in 2017.

Located in the heart of Milwaukee and founded in 1966, Badger Alloys offers single source capabilities for custom castings. The company pou...

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U.S. Chemical Production Moved Higher in June

21 MINS AGO

According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) edged higher by 0.3% in June, following a 0.3% gain in May, and a 0.4% decline in April, as measured on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. During June, output grew in all regions except t...

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U.S. Fuel Ethanol Production Continues to Grow in 2017

1 DAY AGO

Through the first six months of 2017, U.S. weekly ethanol production averaged 1.02 million barrels per day (b/d), an increase of 5% over the same period in 2016. On a weekly basis, U.S. ethanol production set a record of 1.06 million b/d in the week of January 27, 2017, and it has averaged near or a...

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IHS Market PMI Index Reached Four-Month High in July

3 HOURS AGO

July data revealed a further acceleration in business activity growth across the U.S. private sector. At 54.2, up from 53.9 in June, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index signaled the strongest rate of expansion since January.

The pickup in business activity growth ...

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IMF Lowers 2017 Growth Forecast for U.S.

1 DAY AGO

The growth forecast in the United States has been revised down from 2.3% to 2.1% in 2017 and from 2.5% to 2.1% in 2018, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. While the markdown in the 2017 forecast reflects in part the weak growth outturn in the first quarter of the year, the major fa...

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Actuation in Nuclear Power Plants

vmfall11_nuclear_h

The thousands of actuators used in a nuclear plant face some pretty tough conditions as well as rigorous testing.

Currently, 104 nuclear power-plant reactors are working in the United States, and all of them have operating environments that are extremely challenging. Of those 104 plants, 35 are classified as boiling and 69 as pressurized water reactors.

While the design details vary from plant to plant, each nuclear facility has thousands of valve actuators used in various processes and applications. The newest-generation nuclear plant has more than 13,000 valves.

It’s clear, then, that valve actuators play vital roles in maintaining process safety, efficiency and productivity in a wide range of situations.

This article contains a brief description of some of the special circumstances encountered in challenging nuclear environments and the different styles of actuators used to meet demanding operational and safety requirements.

STRICT GUIDELINES AND REQUIREMENTS

vmfall11_nuclear_electric_actuatorWith O-ring sealed covers in place on this electric actuator, the motor, limit and torque switches, as well as other electrical components, are housed within a pressure-tight enclosure. This keeps out dirt and moisture and prevents breathing from expansion and contraction of the internal air caused by temperature changes.All equipment used in nuclear plants built in the United States is certified under stringent guidelines mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Verification of reactors or equipment to standards from other countries is not acceptable for the 104 working reactors in the U.S.

To understand basic requirements the nuclear power industry faces in this nation, a review of the similarities and differences between nuclear power and fossil power is helpful.

In a fossil power plant, coal might be crushed and mixed with air to boil water, which produces steam to drive a turbine. With nuclear reactions, the process is different, but the operational objective is essentially the same—to heat water to produce steam to drive a turbine. With a coal steam generator, the activity of burning the pulverized coal and producing steam is contained within what is termed the “boiler island.” Because of the strong similarity to what happens in the coal plant, many engineers and technicians in a nuclear plant refer to the area where steam generation occurs as the “nuclear island.”

vmfall11_nuclear_cutawayThis cutaway illustration shows the internal components of a typical electric actuator.Within the nuclear reactor, equipment must meet rigorous standards. Since radiation is very high, the standards require all equipment materials used in this phase of the process to withstand high levels of radiation for the life of the plant. Therefore, materials such as iron or steel are required rather than aluminum. Also, temperatures in this portion of the plant are elevated, which will affect seal materials. The combination of severe environmental conditions determines the various coatings and paints allowed for use in this area, which is known as “inside containment.”

To be suitable for service in a nuclear reactor, an actuator must go through specific testing by outside testing agencies. The test reports produced must then be reviewed not only by the actuator suppliers, but by consulting engineers and the utilities themselves. Many documents also are reviewed by the NRC.

The tests for actuators used “inside containment” apply to all styles. The plants use electric motor operators as well as pneumatic cylinder actuators and hydraulic cylinder actuators. All of these actuators must be tested to ensure they can withstand the environment for their expected lives. Also, in addition to environmental concerns, the actuators must be able to operate during extreme accident conditions such as an earthquake.

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