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Last updateFri, 29 Apr 2016 5pm

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Food and Beverage Processing

Food and Beverage Processing

When wandering the grocery store aisles,...

Variable Frequency Drives in Electric Actuators

Variable Frequency Drives in Electric Actuators

Electric actuators are vital for operati...

Braided Packing: An Old Technology with a Modern Twist

Braided Packing: An Old Technology with a Modern Twist

Compression packing is the primary metho...

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Industry Headlines

Rotork Acquires Mastergear from Regal Beloit

2 DAYS AGO  |  Chris Guy

Rotork has acquired the entirety of Mastergear’s business and assets from Regal Beloit Corporation for $25 million on a cash-free and debt-free ...

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Industry Headlines

Rotork Acquires Mastergear from Regal Beloit

2 DAYS AGO

Rotork has acquired the entirety of Mastergear’s business and assets from Regal Beloit Corporation for $25 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis and a value of inventory that will be finalized at the end of a transition service agreement.

Mastergear will become part of Rotork's Gears divis...

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Emerson Opens New Helix Innovation Center

2 DAYS AGO

Emerson announced the launch of its “Helix” initiative, including the opening of The Helix innovation center, an industry-first, $35 million hub dedicated to advancing research and education for the global heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry. The new ...

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Energy Sector Weighs on Construction Starts

2 DAYS AGO

At a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $660.5 billion, new construction starts in March receded 1% from February’s pace, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Total construction starts had jumped 13% in February, led by a huge gain for the electric utility and gas plant category. The dolla...

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Chevron Investing Billions in The Permian Basin

3 DAYS AGO

At Chevron’s annual security analyst meeting last month, chairman and CEO John Watson said that his company plans on investing billions into oil & gas projects in the Permian Basin.

According to the Hobbs News-Sun , Watson predicted they could be pumping up to 350,000 barrels a day out of West ...

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House Passes Bill To Lower Import Tariffs On Manufacturers

3 DAYS AGO

This week, the House voted 415-2 for the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016. The bipartisan, bicameral bill reforms the way Congress considers legislation for suspending tariffs on products not made in the U.S., what some are calling, “manufacturing tax breaks.” The legis...

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Texas Manufacturing Index Shrinks More Than Forecast

5 DAYS AGO

Texas factory activity increased for a second month in a row in April, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, rose from 3.3 to 5.8, suggesting a slight pickup in output growth.

Perce...

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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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