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Industry Headlines

CIRCOR Announces Availability of Historical Segment Information

-1 DAYS AGO

CIRCOR International announced the availability of certain historical segment information reflecting its previously announced organizational realignment beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The new “Energy” segment, including the recent acquisition of Critical Flow Solutions, will prima...

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Curtiss-Wright, Clarke Industrial Engineering Sign Licensing Agreement

-1 DAYS AGO

Clarke Industrial Engineering has entered into a licensing agreement with Curtiss-Wright Corporation, whereby Clarke’s patented and proprietary Shutter Valve technology will be exclusively available to Curtiss-Wright for the worldwide naval defense market, the U.S. maritime homeland security mar...

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New Investments Spur Permian Oil Production Increase

3 HOURS AGO

The Department of Energy (DOE) said on Tuesday that oil production in the Permian Basin could increase by 53,000 bpd by next month. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), that is the largest monthly increase in the region in a year.

“The EIA’s first shale oil forecast o...

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Why is Oil & Gas Slow to Adopt Cloud Technology?

1 DAY AGO

“There are endless benefits to implementing a cloud-based system, many of which center around less waste and less hassle, but due to operational characteristics, oil & gas companies stand to benefit more than most.”

“Yet, while being among the sectors that stand to gain most fro...

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Industrial Production Sees Largest Rise in More Than Two Years

3 HOURS AGO

Industrial production rose 0.8% in December, the largest increase since November 2014, after falling 0.7% the previous month. For the fourth quarter as a whole, the index slipped 0.6% at an annual rate.

Manufacturing output moved up 0.2% in December, as an increase in durable manufacturing outweighed d...

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IMF Raises U.S. Economic Growth Forecast

1 DAY AGO

After a lackluster outturn in 2016, economic activity is projected to pick up pace in 2017 and 2018, especially in emerging market and developing economies. However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted in its new World Economic Outlook, there is a wide dispersion of possible outcomes around ...

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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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