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Last updateThu, 19 Apr 2018 4pm

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Air Valves in Piping Systems

Air Valves in Piping Systems

Liquid piping systems are prone to colle...

Are Valves from Low-Cost Countries Getting Better?

Are Valves from Low-Cost Countries Getting Better?

The last 25 years have seen standards cr...

Managing the Generation Gap: Much Ado About Nothing?

Managing the Generation Gap: Much Ado About Nothing?

The baby boomer generation was the most ...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson and BlueFin Form Strategic Partnership

Thursday, 19 April 2018  |  Chris Guy

Emerson and BlueFin have signed a working partnership agreement to deliver the Roxar gauge technology to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) region. The part...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson and BlueFin Form Strategic Partnership

8 HOURS AGO

Emerson and BlueFin have signed a working partnership agreement to deliver the Roxar gauge technology to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) region. The partnership will deliver a combined offering of Emerson's technology coupled with BlueFin's installation services and chemical injection systems.

BlueFin, a...

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Flowserve Expands Partnership with Unisys

1 DAY AGO

Flowserve, a client of Unisys Corporation, will expand its use of the Unisys Stealth microsegmentation solution through a new agreement to implement the solution more broadly across the enterprise. Under the new agreement , Flowserve will increase the number of servers and endpoints protected by Steal...

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OECD Natural Gas Production Up 2.4% in 2017

9 HOURS AGO

An assessment of monthly data shows that in 2017 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) natural gas production grew by 2.4% compared to 2016. This growth was driven by increases in production across all OECD regions, particularly in Asia Oceania (+17.7%), whilst the Americas and...

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Major Trends Changing the Chemical Industry

2 DAYS AGO

“The accelerated globalization of the chemicals market is one of four major trends that we at SAP see shaping the chemical industry through the remainder of 2018 and beyond,” writes Stefan Guertzgen, global senior director for industry solution marketing, chemicals at SAP.

“Amid such ...

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Beige Book: Solid Outlook Despite Tariff Concerns

10 HOURS AGO

Economic activity continued to expand at a modest to moderate pace across the 12 Federal Reserve Districts in March and early April. Outlooks remained positive, but contacts in various sectors including manufacturing, agriculture and transportation expressed concern about the newly imposed and/or prop...

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IMF Predicting Global Economic Upswing

1 DAY AGO

World growth strengthened in 2017 to 3.8%, with a notable rebound in global trade. It was driven by an investment recovery in advanced economies, continued strong growth in emerging Asia, a notable upswing in emerging Europe, and signs of recovery in several commodity exporters. Global growth is exp...

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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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