Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Face Lifts for the Aging Nuclear Plants

Water Jet Peening

The energy industry is trying to find ways to extend the useful lives of their aging nuclear power plants as more facilities are being forced to close down.

This little article was noticed from Power Engineering just yesterday:
"Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems Inc. (MNES) was awarded contracts to provide its water jet peening (WJP) service at two nuclear power plants. 
The contracts are for work at the Wolf Creek Generating Station in Kansas and the Ameren Missouri Callaway Energy Center in Missouri. The service will help to modify the potential for stress corrosion cracking of essential Alloy 600 components and associated weld metals. The work is scheduled to begin in 2016. 
The entire process can be conducted underwater and uses only high-pressure water. No foreign materials or heat is applied. 
MNES will be responsible for the project management, and will work with contractors AZZ WSI and Structural Integrity Associates Inc."
Then not long after I received the first alert another one emerged from Mitsubishi's MNES that gave a tiny bit more information on this state-of-the-art water jet peening process  (WJP).
"The WJP service will reduce the risk of stress corrosion cracking of essential alloy components and associated weld metals, thus providing safety benefits and long-term cost savings to the ratepayers and utilities, MHI said."
 I once remember seeing a pillow for sale in a classy little boutique, on it written artfully in needlepoint were these words, "After forty it's just patch, patch, patch."

The ladies reading it chuckled knowing full well how true these little words were. I reflect back and find that the same thing is true of our nuclear power plants today. Half of the nuclear power plants in the United States are over 30 years old, the average age is over 32 years. So they have reached that "patch, patch, patch" stage and I think this is just the beginning of what you can expect to hear on the subject.

Here is a new story that just came in this morning that describes the process in a bit more detail:

There are so many wonderful "fixes" out there aren't there? But Little Annie One Note still asks the same age old question: "What do we do with the spent nuclear fuel?" Fill in your answer below.

1 comment:

  1. The patch thing was funny, Annie. A little levity always helps when you're discussing situations that could kill millions of people. I don't trust this patching at all. In fact, I trust nothing that is said of these nuclear facilities. Sigh.

    I can imagine a grand future plan to send the spent nuclear fuel into space. Alas, there's a misfire and it blows up a mile overhead, spreading a halo of killer radiation over the world. And so the story ends.

    Maybe I'm a little negative today. Nah.