3D-printed part loaded into plant for first time; Rolls Royce to sell nuclear I&C business

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Additively manufactured channel fasteners for Framatome’s boiling water reactor fuel assembly. (Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

A 3D printed safety component, manufactured at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will be loaded into a U.S. commercial nuclear plant for the first time, Framatome said in a statement at the beginning of December.

The stainless-steel fuel assembly channel fasteners will be inserted in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant during the spring 2021 refueling outage, Framatome said. 

The components, which secure the fuel channel to the boiling water reactor (BWR) fuel assembly, were printed at the ORNL using additive-manufacturing techniques as part of the lab’s Transformational Challenge Reactor Program and installed on ATRIUM 10XM fuel assemblies at Framatome’s nuclear fuel manufacturing facility. 

The channel fasteners are usually made from expensive castings and require precision machining. 

“Our use of additive-manufacturing techniques is a major advancement for Framatome and the nuclear energy industry,” said Ala Alzaben, senior vice president of the Commercial and Customer Center of the Fuel Business Unit at Framatome.

“Working with industry leaders at ORNL and TVA, our team developed a new, innovative way to manufacture components that will help to reduce costs while maintaining plant safety and reliability.”

Data collecting from developing the component using additive manufacturing and from inspections during the refueling outages will help in future efforts to certify the components’ quality, Framatome said. 

Rolls Royce to sell civil nuclear I&C business

Engineering company Rolls Royce has agreed to sell its civil nuclear instrumentation and control (I&C) business to Framatome, the group said in a statement December 7. 

The business includes all of Rolls Royce activities and teams based in Grenoble (France), Prague (Czech Republic), Beijing and Shenzhen (China). 

“This transaction marks a further simplification of our business and contributes towards our target to generate over £2bn from disposals, as announced on 27 August 2020. We also believe it represents the best outcome for this part of our civil nuclear operations and its people,” Rolls Royce Chief Executive Officer Warren East said. 

The sale is expected to be finalized in the middle of next year, subject to closing conditions including regulatory approvals, the group said. Work at both companies will continue as normal until the transaction is complete, it said.

The business being sold had 550 employees and reported revenues of 94 million euros ($113 million), which were consolidated within the results of Rolls Royce’s Power Systems business. 

The accord does not impact UK-based employees or small modular reactor (SMR) activities, it said.

NRC issues report for GE Hitachi Nuclear SMR 

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a Final Safety Evaluation Report for the first of several licensing topical reports (LTRs) that have been submitted for GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s BWRX-300, the company confirmed at the end of November. 

The LTR forms the basis for the dramatic simplification of the BWRX-300 and was submitted to the NRC in December last year, GEH said. 

“The BWRX-300 will leverage much of the existing licensing basis of the NRC-certified ESBWR and this LTR will accelerate our commercialization efforts as we remain laser focused on making the first SMR operational later this decade,” said President and CEO of GEH Jay Wileman in a statement. 

GEH expects the review of two other LTRs, submitted to the NRC early this year, to be completed in the next few months while it has submitted a fourth LTR in September.

The company expects the LTRs to serve as a foundation for the development of a Preliminary Safety Analysis Report that could, potentially, be submitted to the NRC by a utility customer, the statement said. 

OPG defuels second reactor ahead of schedule 

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has successfully defueled the second unit to undergo refurbishment at the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station ahead of schedule, the Canadian company said in a statement at the end of November. 

The defueling allows the next phase of the Darlington Refurbishment Project to begin and OPG and its project partner CanAtom Power Group have begun to prepare the reactor for disassembly, it said. 

Defueling involves the removal of 6,240 fuel bundles from the reactor after which they are placed in water-filled bays where they remain in storage for 10 years. 

“Once again, the Darlington Fuel Handling team has demonstrated their knowledge, skills and expertise, defuelling Unit 3 safely and with quality ahead of the targeted completion date,” said Steve Gregoris, Senior Vice President, Darlington Nuclear GS.

The next step in the process begins with islanding, in which, over the course of 55 days, the unit being refurbished is separated from the operating units by implementing controls and installing steel bulkheads, OPG said. 

The company noted that it was able to improve efficiency and quality performance with the second unit after its experience with refurbishment of the first unit. 

The Darlington Refurbishment Project, where four units of the plant will be refurbished, is scheduled to be completed by 2026. 

By Reuters Events Nuclear