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Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design

Basics of Elastomeric Seal Design

Engineers need critical design informati...

Wastewater Treatment

Wastewater Treatment

Society’s desire for a clean envir...

Controlling Our Water Systems, Part II

Controlling Our Water Systems, Part II

To better understand the actuators and c...

Controlling Our Water Systems

Controlling Our Water Systems

Actuators and controls are a critical pr...

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Industry Headlines

Crane Co. Reports Second Quarter 2016 Results

6 HOURS AGO

Crane Co. reported second quarter 2016 GAAP earnings of $1.15 per diluted share, compared to $0.95 per share in the second quarter of 2015. Excluding Special Items, second quarter 2016 earnings per diluted share were $1.21, compared to $1.06 per share in the second quarter of 2015.

Second quarter 2016 ...

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Emerson Exploring Acquisition of Pentair Valves & Controls

1 DAY AGO

Reuters UK has spoken to sources that confirm Emerson has made an offer to acquire Pentair Valves & Controls. Pentair Plc added the Valves & Controls division after its merger with Tyco Flow Control in 2012.

“Pentair has received offers for the valves and controls business from companies o...

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Chemical Activity Barometer Grows for Fourth Consecutive Month

6 HOURS AGO

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) expanded 0.4% in July following a revised 0.7% increase in June, 0.8% increase in May and 0.6% increase in April. All data is measured on a three-month moving average. Accounting for adjustments, the CAB remains up 2.6% over this time last year, an improvement ove...

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SABIC, ExxonMobil Evaluating Joint Venture on U.S. Gulf Coast

6 HOURS AGO

SABIC and an affiliate of Exxon Mobil are considering the potential development of a jointly owned petrochemical complex on the U.S. Gulf Coast. If developed, the project would be located in Texas or Louisiana near natural gas feedstock and include a world-scale steam cracker and derivative units.

Befo...

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Sharpest Rise in U.S. Manufacturing Production Since November

1 DAY AGO

July data signaled a further rebound in business conditions across the U.S. manufacturing sector, led by a robust expansion of incoming new work and the fastest upturn in production volumes for eight months. Job creation also strengthened in July, with the latest increase in payroll numbers the fast...

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Texas Manufacturing Activity Stabilizes

1 DAY AGO

Texas factory activity held steady in July, according to business executives responding to the Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey . The production index, a key measure of state manufacturing conditions, came in near zero after two months of negative readings, suggesting output stopped falling this mon...

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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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