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Valve Basics Training Helps Fill Industry Skills Gap

Valve Basics Training Helps Fill Industry Skills Gap

One of the most keenly felt needs in tod...

An End-User’s Perspective on Valve Selection and Risk

An End-User’s Perspective on Valve Selection and Risk

I am not a valve expert, although I ofte...

New Test Stamp and More Updates on Pressure Vessel Codes

New Test Stamp and More Updates on Pressure Vessel Codes

A new test organization program and stam...

The Role of Valves in HAZOP Studies

The Role of Valves in HAZOP Studies

Process hazard analysis (PHA) is require...

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Lee Howard Named President of Rotork Controls

1 DAY AGO
Lee Howard Named President of Rotork Controls

Lee Howard has been named president of Rotork Controls , overseeing both the U.S. and Canada. He replaces the recently retired Bob Arnold, a former VMA chairman, who served as president of Rotork Controls since 1988.

Lee was born in Wales and is a native of the UK. He previously served as managing dire...

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Val-Matic Names Mark Troyanowski VP of Sales & Marketing

1 DAY AGO
Val-Matic Names Mark Troyanowski VP of Sales & Marketing

Val-Matic Valve & Manufacturing Corp. has appointed Mark T. Troyanowski as vice president of sales and marketing. Mr. Troyanowski joined Val-Matic earlier this year and previously worked in various sales management roles at other manufacturing companies.

Over his career, he has participated in seve...

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Chemical Activity Barometer Suggests Accelerated Business Activity

-1 DAYS AGO

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) expanded 0.4% in August following an upward revision for July. This marks the barometer’s sixth consecutive monthly gain. Accounting for adjustments, the CAB is up 3.2% over this time last year, the strongest year over year growth since January 2015. All d...

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Innovation Could Lead to Significant Cuts in Chemical Manufacturing Energy Use

-1 DAYS AGO

Scientists from ExxonMobil and Georgia Tech have developed a new technology that could significantly reduce the amount of energy and emissions associated with manufacturing plastics. If brought to industrial scale, this breakthrough could reduce industry’s global annual carbon dioxide emissions ...

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Manufacturing Output Up, Firms Signal Softer Expansion in New Work

1 HOUR AGO

U.S. goods producers saw a further upturn in overall business conditions during August, though the rate of improvement was softer than seen in July. While output continued to rise markedly, total new work rose at a slower pace and employment expanded at the weakest rate in four months. Meanwhile, co...

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Leading Economic Indicators Gained Ground in July

4 DAYS AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.4% in July to 124.3, following a 0.3% increase in June, and a 0.2% decline in May.

“The U.S. LEI picked up again in July, suggesting moderate economic growth should continue through the end of 2016,” said Ataman Ozyi...

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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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