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Industry Headlines

Velan Announces New Sales Structure

2 DAYS AGO

Velan is re-designing its sales structure to be better aligned with customers’ market approach. This change is intended to focus Velan’s resources on maximizing impact and competitiveness in today’s challenging economy.

Paul Dion has been appointed as vice-president of sales, process ...

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MSS Revises Standards for Instrument Valves, Sealing of Rising Stem Valves

4 DAYS AGO

The Manufacturers Standardization Society (MSS) is pleased to announce the publication of the following revised Standard Practices:

  • MSS SP-99-2016a, Instrument Valves (replaces 2016 edition)
  • MSS SP-105-2016a, Instrument Valves for Code Applications (replaces 2016 edition)
  • MSS SP-120-2017, Flexible Grap...

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Construction Underway on Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

3 DAYS AGO

Construction is officially underway in Pennsylvania on the greenfield portion of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project – an expansion of the existing Transco natural gas pipeline to connect Marcellus gas supplies with markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern U.S.

Construction broke ground in ...

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EIA Projects 28% Increase in World Energy Use by 2040

4 DAYS AGO

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that world energy consumption will grow by 28% between 2015 and 2040. Most of this growth is expected to come from countries that are not in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and especially in countries where d...

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U.S. Manufacturers Seeking More Renewable Energy

3 DAYS AGO

A new report from David Gardiner and Associates finds that 83% of the largest manufacturing companies with a U.S. footprint have established greenhouse gas reduction targets and 25% of manufacturers have established renewable energy targets. The analysis also finds that enabling access to renewable en...

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Harvey Caused Steep Drop in U.S. Industrial Output

6 DAYS AGO

Industrial production declined 0.9% in August following six consecutive monthly gains. Hurricane Harvey is estimated to have reduced the rate of change in total output by roughly 0.75%. The index for manufacturing decreased 0.3%; storm-related effects appear to have reduced the rate of change in facto...

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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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