Archive for the ‘Nuclear Energy’ Category

April 11, 2014 | 10:46 am

Nuclear Components Riding the Bull for Seismic Testing

Bucking the challenge at up to 20g’s, the nuclear components from U.S. utilities strive to survive the gyrations of AREVA’s 7-ton seismic shake table.

The centrepiece of AREVA’s Seismic/Vibration Lab, the 10′ x 10′ electro-hydraulic multi-axial 7-ton shake table is capable of testing nuclear components weighing up to 10 tons at a maximum of 100 Hz with peak acceleration from 5- to 20-g, dependent on the item’s mass.

As seen in this video showing two test blocks (total mass ~10,000 lbs.) riding the shake table, AREVA’s component testing can include the powerful earthquake ground movement of greatest concern to utilities, regulators, and communities. 

The Seismic/Vibration Lab is just one section of AREVA’s U.S. Technical Center located in the AREVA Solutions Complex, one of the largest collection of nuclear testing and service offerings for commercial grade dedication (CGD) and innovative testing capabilities in the United States.

As noted by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI),

“All nuclear power plants in the United States are designed and built to stringent seismic standards appropriate for the region in which they are located. Earthquake safety standards are more stringent for nuclear energy facilities than for any other type of infrastructure.

The nuclear energy industry continues to take steps to enhance the safety of America’s reactors. As part of the response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s post-Fukushima requirements, companies that operate nuclear energy facilities are re-evaluating the earthquake potential at their sites using the latest data and methodologies.”

Surviving the bull ride atop AREVA’s shake table is one way to test safety-related components, and help U.S. nuclear power facilities remain a safe, reliable, and bountiful clean energy source of electricity to power America’s industry, hospitals, and homes.

April 9, 2014 | 9:38 am

Rencheck: Nuclear energy crucial to New England

By Mike Rencheck, CEO, AREVA Inc. North AmericaAreva Inc. CEO Mike Rencheck

This op-ed originally appeared in the Providence Journal, March 31, 2014.

Since the beginning of the year, cities across the country have experienced unusually frigid temperatures and severe winter weather on several occasions. Along with this cold comes an increase in energy demand as heating systems are forced to work overtime to keep homes and businesses warm. While other energy sources often struggle to keep up with this demand, nuclear energy facilities have proven their ability to reliably meet it, providing much-needed stability to the energy grid and power to our homes and businesses.

In fact, a Jan. 7 article in the Hartford Business Journal noted that nuclear energy was New England’s top source of electricity when the polar vortex swirled through the region in early January and natural gas power plants struggled to keep up with the demand. I expect we’ll see nuclear energy facilities rise to the challenge once again when we look back on this most recent bout of cold temperatures.

With our need for energy growing, not just during cold weather snaps, we need a reliable, diverse energy mix that prioritizes low-carbon energy sources to improve public health and reduce emissions. Nuclear energy currently accounts for approximately 20 percent of U.S. electricity and 63.3 percent of emissions-free electricity.

Increased energy grid stability and reliability are some of the more well-known benefits of nuclear energy, but its positive contributions to public health are too often overlooked. In fact, last year NASA scientists James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha published a study that found that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths that would otherwise have resulted from the burning of fossil fuels. Hansen and Kharecha noted that, if nuclear energy technologies replaced fossil fuels on a large scale, that number could grow to 7 million lives saved over the next 40 years.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, nuclear energy facilities avoided the equivalent production of 570 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 in the United States. This is nearly equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide that is released annually from 110 million cars. As the only reliable, round-the-clock, base load source for generating large amounts of low-carbon energy, nuclear energy needs to play a greater role in U.S. energy policy.

As we increasingly turn to nuclear energy to help us safely and reliably power our homes and business today and into the future, the industry is also investing in building the next generation of nuclear energy facilities and extending the operations of the existing reactor fleet. At AREVA Inc., we refer to this as the daily renewal of nuclear energy.

During the past 30 years, the more than 100 existing U.S. nuclear reactors and tens of thousands of American nuclear energy professionals have not sat idle. In fact, their work has led to the increased output of the existing fleet while maintaining safe and secure operations. The industry accomplished this by continually upgrading technology and capabilities, and those activities continue today. For instance, AREVA Inc. has successfully completed the installation of a digital instrumentation and control system at a U.S. nuclear energy facility. This advanced technology modernizes the equipment of the current nuclear fleet, which improves plant safety, reliability and longevity.

To have reliable and affordable electricity, we need a diverse mix of energy sources here in the United States. Nuclear energy has proven to be a reliable source of energy that not only has the ability to operate continuously when we need it most, but also helps provide for a healthier future. Domestic nuclear energy should play a more significant role in U.S. energy policy, and it’s time for our policymakers to take action to support an energy source that provides for both energy stability and reliability while protecting our public health.

Mike Rencheck is president and chief executive officer of AREVA Inc., a company involved in nuclear energy and other low-carbon power generation.

March 26, 2014 | 3:22 pm

AREVA Continues Leading Nuclear Plants into the Digital Age

TelepermXSIn December 2013, AREVA Inc. set another benchmark for the U.S. nuclear industry with the third successful installation of a comprehensive Digital Instrumentation & Control (I&C) upgrade system.  Most importantly, the project was completed as promised–safely and on schedule.

AREVA’s TELEPERM® XS digital I&C system enables state-of-the-art digital processing of functions for Reactor Protection System (RPS) and Engineered Safeguards Protection Systems (ESPS). Including this recent installation, 80 TELEPERM® XS systems have been supplied or are currently installed in 14 different reactor designs across 16 countries.

By incorporating lessons learned from the first two U.S. installations and a continuous improvement culture, our dedicated team of professionals focused on AREVA’s four Pillars of Excellence–safety, quality, performance, and delivery–and expertly delivered this most recent I&C safety innovation.

Our utility customer’s multi-year vision and foresight now translates into enhanced safety and reliability for its nuclear energy facility. The first two installations at the site–completed in 2011 and 2012–have been operating as designed with no issues while minimizing previous operator burdens with surveillances. Last year, our customer’s TELEPERM® XS Digital I&C upgrade won the 2012 NEI Top Industry Practice Award for Vision and Leadership and the Best of the Best Award. The year prior, AREVA’s digital I&C installation won Platt’s Award for Engineering Project of the Year.

You can learn more about AREVA’s journey to address plant reliability and obsolescence in a recent Electric Light & Power article, Leading Nuclear Plants into the Digital Age.

March 18, 2014 | 1:12 pm

More on CHT’s Robust UX-30 Nuclear Transport Overpack

CHT-UX-30The importance of customers using CHT’s robust UX-30 nuclear transport overpack was reinforced during a recent shipping incident. Despite the more than 5,000-pound load being dropped several feet, CHT’s stainless steel, double-hulled UX-30 overpack securely sheltered the internal Model 30B uranium hexafluoride cylinders and maintained the sealed integrity of its containment. Uranium hexafluoride is designated as a Class 7 hazardous material.

AREVA-subsidiary CHT manufactures UX-30 UF6 overpacks at its North Carolina factory to the highest standards of durability, reliability and strength for the nuclear shipment of Model 30B Uranium Hexafluoride cylinders. The overpack design incorporates a tough closed-cell polyurethane foam and stainless steel construction with proven strength for shipping and protecting UF6 cylinders. The UX-30 overpack is licensed for domestic use in the United States and has been validated for global use.

Learn more about CHT’s robust nuclear transport technology.

March 17, 2014 | 10:59 am

Congressman Wilson and Secretary of State Kerry Discuss Concern with Insufficient MOX Project Funding

We appreciate the concern expressed by Secretary Kerry last week for the broader international implications of walking away from the U.S. nonproliferation commitment to permanently dispose of surplus nuclear weapon-grade plutonium through the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF), generally called the MOX Project.

As shown in the video below, Secretary Kerry was responding to information provided by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) about the Obama Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposal to Congress to minimally fund the more than 60% constructed MFFF, subjecting the project to “cold-standby” stagnation while re-examining previously considered options.

This uncertainty in our nonproliferation agreement with Russia comes at a sensitive time in world affairs, especially since it heightens the juxtaposition with the fourth anniversary of the nonproliferation protocol signed between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. This protocol amending the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) of 2000 specifies that the United States will dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of surplus weapon plutonium by irradiating the plutonium as MOX fuel in nuclear power reactors.

The proposed MFFF cold-standby places into question the U.S. commitment to global nuclear nonproliferation only a week before the Administration leads the international summit on nuclear nonproliferation and terrorism at the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague, March 24-25. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the world leaders scheduled to participate. Abandoning the MOX Project will leave the U.S. with no timely cost-efficient alternative to honor the nonproliferation agreement. Selecting another option that does not honor the PMDA will require the U.S. to renegotiate with Russia.

Congressman Wilson and at least seven U.S. Senators have recognized that—to honor our existing nonproliferation commitment—we must complete the MOX Project.

March 14, 2014 | 10:08 am

NGNP Alliance and NC2I Discuss Commercialization of AREVA’s Gen-IV HTGR

AREVA HTGR Information KitThe output of next-generation nuclear reactors can do much more than just generate electricity. In partnership with the U.S.-based NGNP Alliance, the international organization NC2I is considering an AREVA-designed Gen-IV prismatic core, modular high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) concept as a powerful, low-emissions energy source for industrial steam processes.

The European Union has a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and a major element of that commitment is the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP) program considering three nuclear energy applications, including the “Nuclear Cogeneration Industrial Initiative.”  This initiative explores GHG reductions in areas other than electricity generation, such as industrial process heat, district heating, and desalination.

The NC2I selected the HTGR as its preferred approach because of the concept reactor’s high temperature process heat capability and its intrinsic safe operating processes, allowing collocation with industrial facilities.

As stated in the news release announcing the selection,

“[They] met last week to discuss collaboration opportunities to development and commercialize a Generation IV, intrinsically safe nuclear high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology that can be used for cogeneration of process heat and electricity, displacing other fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they cause.”

By sharing technical progress through this collaboration, we may be able to reach these industrial and environmental goals more economically.

Along with other leading global companies, AREVA is an active member of the NGNP Alliance and NC2I.

Read the NGNP Alliance release: International Industry Organizations Meet to Collaborate on Intrinsically Safe Nuclear Reactor Technology

February 24, 2014 | 5:18 pm

MOX Project: Important Part of the U.S. Nonproliferation Program

MOX Workers

At the 60% complete MOX Project in South Carolina, the highly skilled workforce is nearing 18 million safe work hours.

Recent government reports tallying the lifecycle costs of the entire U.S. surplus weapons plutonium disposition program have been improperly applied by commenters to a single project within the program called the mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility (MFFF), or MOX Project, under construction in South Carolina.

Selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as the best option to fulfill the United States’ nonproliferation obligation, the MOX Project facility is more than 60% complete and on track for delivery at the projected remaining $4 billion expense. Under the management of Shaw-AREVA MOX Services, constructing the MOX Project has played a key role in national and regional economies by re-establishing a U.S. nuclear energy supply chain that, for the first time in more than 20 years, has trained and employed thousands of skilled American craft workers in a variety of suppliers across multiple states.

This same highly skilled MOX Project American workforce has nearly compiled a notable 18 million safe work hours, and fulfilled every regulatory and environmental requirement – a significant accomplishment for such a large construction project. For example, for four years in a row, the National Regulatory Commission (NRC) reviews have been entirely positive and – with the requirements of more than 50 permits and licenses to meet – there have been no environmental violations since site preparation work started.

The MOX Project, as part of the U.S. plutonium disposition program, will deliver a crucial component of America’s international nonproliferation agreement with Russia, but it is not the only project in the disposition program. There are multiple significant projects represented in the reported program’s lifecycle sum, as well as the costs of DOE to oversee the various projects.

Commenters lumping all of these program lifecycle expenses under the single heading of the MOX Project are sowing confusion and uncertainty, and incorrectly representing the value of this important nonproliferation mission.

The MOX Project needs to be completed as part of the over-arching plutonium disposition program to honor America’s agreement, deliver on its crucial security mission, and serve as an example of international cooperation and technological achievement. And most importantly, fulfilling our nonproliferation obligation demonstrates that the United States still leads, still delivers, and still pursues actions to make the world a better place.

February 7, 2014 | 4:50 pm

Southworth Discusses AREVA’s Nuclear Portfolio at Platts Conference

Platts-logoYesterday, at the Platts 10th Annual Nuclear Energy Conference, AREVA’s Chief Technology Officer Finis Southworth participated on a panel discussing the current status and challenges of new nuclear power programs worldwide.

With AREVA as the only company on the panel representing in-house new build and next-generation nuclear technology experience, Southworth’s presentation provided unique insight into the new build landscape. In discussion, he stressed that a strong regulatory framework, stable supply chain, long-term government support, and strong customer/supplier relationships are needed for new build programs to thrive.

With AREVA’s Gen III+ 1,600MWe EPR reactor, the 1,000MWe ATMEA1 reactor and the 1,250MWe boiling water KERENA reactor, plus fast breed and High-temperature Gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology in its portfolio, AREVA is a key player in the global new build sector.

Here in North America, Southworth emphasized that AREVA Inc.’s experience and understanding of the entire nuclear fuel cycle and technology makes it a leading supplier in the U.S. energy market – from mining to fuel fabrication, new builds to components, and outage excellence to safe used nuclear fuel management.

Explore our complete portfolio at us.areva.com.

December 12, 2013 | 3:00 pm

AREVA’s VEGAPULS Used Fuel Pool Instrumentation

Our friends at NEI have a new piece up about the nuclear industry’s latest tools for monitoring the water level in used nuclear fuel storage pools, including AREVA’s through-air radar system.

Along with the article’s general content, this is a great opportunity to add performance details about AREVA Inc.‘s groundbreaking efforts in used fuel pool level instrumentation—efforts that are already set to further enhance safety at nuclear energy facilities throughout North America.

In partnership with VEGA Americas, Inc., we’ve developed state-of-the-art tools like the VEGAPULS™ system to monitor used fuel storage pools. VEGAPULS is a through-air radar system that works by measuring the reflection times of microwave pulses to calculate a pinpoint measurement of water levels.

The benefit of using through-air radar is that it works even under adverse conditions—conditions in which used fuel pool monitoring is most important. Field tests of the VEGAPULS through-air radar demonstrated that it can efficiently handle environments containing saturated steam, dense smoke, boiling water, and floating debris without any loss of accuracy —at a range of up to 212 feet.

Check out this video demonstration of our used fuel pool instrumentation:

We’re proud to be doing our part to help utilities safely deliver and manage on-demand, clean-air nuclear energy.

December 4, 2013 | 1:42 pm

AREVA TN – U.S. Success in Nuclear Safety, Steel and Labor

AREVA TN customer shows pride of ownership with newly built – safe and secure – horizontal storage module for housing NUHOMS® dry storage canisters.

AREVA TN customer shows pride of ownership with newly built – safe and secure – horizontal storage module for housing NUHOMS® dry storage canisters.

With our recent multiple nuclear fuel storage contract announcements in Nebraska, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, this is a good opportunity to provide an inside look at AREVA TN’s positive impact on nuclear energy safety, manufacturing and job growth in the U.S.

For 50 years, AREVA TN has been a leader in the U.S. industry for safe and secure used nuclear fuel management.

Based on our commitment to maximize regional fabrication and localize materials sourcing, we’ve built a strong and diverse national supply chain to support our customers’ projects.

AREVA TN uses two U.S. fabricators—one in North Carolina and one in Idaho—to build our advanced technology NUHOMS® canisters. And, we proudly tap regional U.S. steel suppliers for the materials. Together the two U.S. facilities will produce 50 “Made in America” canisters a year, more than 60% of our annual global production.

But our used nuclear fuel management business not only drives American manufacturing, we also intentionally solicit and employ regional labor for each of our customer projects. For example, AREVA TN hires local union labor for our pool to pad loading operations at customer sites, employing approximately 15 union workers per campaign. We also use local union labor to cast and construct our innovative above-ground concrete horizontal storage module system to safely and securely store the canisters. During these projects, the influx of workers and material purchases provides a significant economic boost to the local community. For example, a loading campaign at a Pennsylvania nuclear energy facility will hire local union workers and bring several million dollars into the regional economy.

As a U.S. leader in safe used fuel management, we are proud to serve our customers with the most advanced technology, intentionally sourced from regional suppliers, and expertly installed with local labor. The continued growth of our AREVA TN business is another way that the more than 4,600 employees of AREVA Inc. North America advance our nation’s clean energy vision.