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Industry Headlines

Industry Headlines

Emerson Expanding Mississippi Facility

3 DAYS AGO

Emerson plans on delivering $500,000 in new equipment to its facility in Sherman, MS. Because of this investment , and its promise of new jobs for the region, the Sherman Economic Development Corp. has approved $150,000 in grants for Emerson.

"We have a relatively new Fisher product that will be reloca...

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REXA and CCC Form Joint Initiative

3 DAYS AGO

REXA and Compressor Controls Corporation (CCC) have formed a joint initiative to modernize steam turbine controls for enhanced performance based upon each company’s core competency.

There are more than 10,000 turbomachinery trains worldwide powered by CCC. By upgrading mechanical and hydraulic go...

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Energy Transfer Partners Building New NGL Fractionation Facility

-1 DAYS AGO

Energy Transfer Partners’ subsidiary, Lone Star NGL LLC, will construct a fifth natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionation facility at Mont Belvieu, TX. The construction of Fractionator V is a result of the tremendous production growth in the Delaware and Permian Basins.

Fractionator V, including NG...

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Chevron and Pembina Sign Deal to Build Pipelines, Other Facilities

3 DAYS AGO

Calgary-based Pembina Pipeline Corp. has signed a 20-year deal with Chevron to build natural gas pipelines and processing facilities for a potential production operation in northwest Edmonton, Alberta. The infrastructure developed over the term of this agreement has the potential to represent a multi-...

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Kansas City Fed Survey Shows Regional Manufacturing Jump

-1 DAYS AGO

According to Chad Wilkerson, vice president and economist at the Kansas City Fed, the district’s February Manufacturing Survey revealed that manufacturing activity expanded further with continued strong expectations . The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City serves the tenth Federal Reserve Distr...

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U.S. Private Sector Growth Slows from January’s 14-Month Peak

3 DAYS AGO

At 54.3 in February, the seasonally adjusted Markit Flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index dropped from 55.8 in January but remained above the 50.0 no-change value for the twelfth consecutive month. The latest reading signaled that private sector output growth moderated from the 14-month high recorded ...

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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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