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Safety Relief Valve FAQs

Safety Relief Valve FAQs

Companies that repair, test, maintain or...

An Update on U.S. Valve-Related Standards

An Update on U.S. Valve-Related Standards

It takes much time and effort by many pe...

Diagnostics for Commissioning and Startup

Diagnostics for Commissioning and Startup

Many facilities have found value in perf...

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Safety Relief Valve FAQs

Safety Relief Valve FAQs

Monday, 14 August 2017  |  Lyndon Garrick

Companies that repair, test, maintain or supply valves routinely receive inquiries from end users about safety-relief valves. Here are a few questions...

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Industry Headlines

Forum Energy Technologies Acquires Multilift

2 DAYS AGO

Forum Energy Technologies, Inc. has acquired the stock of Multilift from Pelican Energy Partners, a Houston-based oilfield services focused private equity fund, and management. Based in Houston, Multilift manufactures the patented SandGuard and the Cyclone completion tools; products that extend the ...

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ValvTechnologies Names Teele Director of Global Quality Management

4 DAYS AGO

ValvTechnologies, Inc. has appointed Michael Teele director of global quality management. Based in Houston, Teele will be responsible for setting and maintaining global quality standards, systems and processes, as well as serving as a leadership champion of continuous improvement. With a deep technic...

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Executive Order to Speed Up Infrastructure Project Approval

1 DAY AGO

President Trump signed an executive order intended to roll back “rules regarding environmental reviews and restrictions on government-funded building projects in flood-prone areas as part of his proposal to spend $1 trillion to fix aging U.S. infrastructure,” Reuters reports .

“Trump's...

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DuPont and Dow Chemical Set Closing Date for Merger

2 DAYS AGO

DuPont and The Dow Chemical Company announced that all required regulatory approvals and clearances have been received, that all conditions to closing of their merger of equals have been satisfied, and that their merger of equals will close after the market closes on August 31, 2017.

“The compa...

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U.S. Factory Output Declined in July

1 DAY AGO

Manufacturing output edged down 0.1% in July. The index for durables decreased 0.5%. Among durable manufacturing industries, with the indexes for primary metals and for furniture and related products each dropped more than 1%. The index for other manufacturing (publishing and logging) moved down 0.4%....

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Empire State Manufacturing Index Highest in Nearly Three Years

3 DAYS AGO

Business activity grew strongly in New York State, according to firms responding to the August 2017 Empire State Manufacturing Survey. The headline general business conditions index climbed fifteen points to 25.2, its highest level since September 2014. The new orders index rose seven points to 20.6 a...

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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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