Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet provides electricity to approximately half of the utility’s customers in the Carolinas. The 2,538-MW Oconee Nuclear Station is part of that fleet and has been a pacesetter among U.S. nuclear plants since it began operation in 1973. In order to maintain the plant’s productivity and reliability, its staff implemented a comprehensive controls modernization project that spanned a decade. With its new state-of-the-art upgrades, the facility has become a leader in applying digital electronic technology in the nuclear power industry.
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, which is situated in a postcard-perfect location on the central California coastline, generates electricity for more than three million households in central and northern California. In 2009 the project team at the dual-unit Westinghouse pressurized water reactor facility replaced four steam generators at Unit 1 in just 58 days. Through meticulous planning and excellent project execution, performance on this Unit 1 project was an improvement on the earlier Unit 2 steam generator replacement project.
Corrosion of steel water pipes in the safety-related piping systems of aging U.S. nuclear power plants is fast becoming a safety concern and a significant operational cost, not to mention an indication of potential future liability for nuclear utilities currently constructing new plants or retrofitting existing sites.
While the global spotlight is fixed on India’s massive coal-fired power capacity expansion, the country with meager uranium reserves has been pressing on with a unique long-term program that pushes for research and development of nuclear reactors using all three main fissionable materials.
Recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Component Design Bases Inspection activities have scrutinized empirical approaches used to determine vortex allowances for emergency core cooling system (ECCS) suction sources.
Olkiluoto 3, the world’s first EPR whose construction in Finland has been plagued by major delays, in September reached a significant milestone as its 200 – metric ton, 47-meter-diameter steel dome was hoisted into position 44 meters above the ground.
Using modularization in the construction of nuclear containment vessels can be one way to control both cost and schedule when building the next generation of U.S. nuclear power plants. Although the advantages of modularization can be significant, each new reactor design and plant site poses unique construction challenges and must be individually analyzed to determine the benefits of this approach.
In August 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued its fourth Early Site Permit for two new units at Southern Nuclear’s Vogtle site and its first for the Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactor design. The two new units planned for Vogtle also became the reference plant for the AP1000 under NuStart in June 2009. This means Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will be the first licensed installations of the new AP1000 reactor design in the U.S. Plant Vogtle is expected to get the NRC’s approval to begin construction in 2011.
Africa is emerging as a prominent voice in calling for a global nuclear renaissance. Driven by chronic shortages from population explosions, decades of drought, and dependence on hydropower — and spurred by discoveries of significant uranium reserves on the continent — several countries are considering nuclear power as a viable option.
Since Robert Stirling invented the Stirling engine in 1816, it has been used in an array of specialized applications. That trend continues today. Its compatibility with clean energy sources is becoming apparent: It is an external combustion engine that can utilize almost any heat source, it encloses a fixed amount of a gaseous working fluid, and it doesn’t require any water — unlike a steam engine.