Charlotte, N.C. May 22, 2012 - Employees of Exelon Corporation were awarded the Nuclear Energy Institute's Top Industry Practice (TIP) award recently in the Materials and Services category for their application of new, underwater laser scanning technology to obtain much-needed measurements within a BWR vessel at Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova, Illinois. The ground-breaking scanning technology, developed specifically for the nuclear industry by Newton Labs of Seattle, Washington, was used to capture precise, as-built dimensions underwater, within the constricted high-radiation belt-line region of a reactor.
The situation that led to the award unfolded during a 2011 scheduled outage of Quad Cities Unit 2, when a degradation of the RS-2 weld on jet pump 13/14 was observed. It was determined that a first-of-its-kind modification would need to be designed, fabricated and installed during the next refueling outage in two years. The problem at the time was that there were no sufficiently detailed as-built records available to accomplish this, and the only opportunity to acquire new measurements was during the outage in progress, which would soon be ending.
The nuclear underwater laser scanner system, named the NM200UW, is a landmark technology developed by Newton Labs and combines rugged, industrial-grade hardware and electronics with sophisticated Newton-developed software that compensates for the disruptions of refraction, turbulence, heat and radioactivity, characteristic of the in-vessel environment. The scanner output is a point cloud so detailed, that when utilized with industry standard three-dimensional software, a fully measurable CAD model can be generated. With a demonstrated accuracy of 0.005 in. (0.127 mm), or better, the technology in many cases eliminates the need for less-accurate traditional measurement techniques such as video scaling or a ruler attached to a handling pole.
With the outage clock ticking, Exelon quickly assembled a Quad Cities coordination and support team to shepherd the critical scanning and imaging process. The team was comprised of Thomas Wojcik, Chris Hebel, Ron DiSabitino and Kate Gresh. Design engineers provided an extensive list of measurements that would be needed in order to plan any modifications. Over 20 scans were taken during the 12-hour period allotted for the process, capturing all but one of the requested dimensions. The raw, 20-plus point clouds were stitched together using 3-D post-processing software and the resulting accuracy of the detailed images was significantly better than previous measurement methods.
The TIP award was made on May 22 during the Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA), the annual conference of the nuclear energy industry and attended by more than 500 nuclear executives from around the world.
Exelon Nuclear is a business unit of Exelon Generation Company, a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation. Exelon Nuclear represents approximately 20% of the U.S. nuclear industry's power capacity with 10 power plants and 17 reactors-located in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) is the nation's leading competitive energy provider, with approximately $33 billion in annual revenues. Headquartered in Chicago, Exelon has operations and business activities in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. Exelon is the largest competitive U.S. power generator, with approximately 35,000 megawatts of owned capacity comprising one of the nation's cleanest and lowest-cost power generation fleets. The company's Constellation business unit provides energy products and services to approximately 100,000 business and public sector customers and approximately 1 million residential customers. Exelon's utilities deliver electricity and natural gas to more than 6.6 million customers in central Maryland (BGE), northern Illinois (ComEd) and southeastern Pennsylvania (PECO). Learn more at: www.exeloncorp.com
Newton Research Labs, Inc. is a privately held manufacturer of machine vision, laser scanning, robotics and optical automation with considerable expertise in the Nuclear Industry. An original spin-off of M.I.T., the company has for more than 20 years developed and marketed high-performance, computer-driven automation for industrial processes and has considerable experience in the nuclear industry. Newton's products are designed to allow the quality, efficiency and cost effectiveness of computer technology to replace the human element in virtually every industry. Newton Labs has deployed more that 30,000 machine vision, laser scanning, robotic and automation systems world-wide. Additional information about other nuclear industry products by Newton Labs may be found at http://www.newtonlabs.com/power.htm.