Seattle, Washington - A team of Westinghouse engineers have demonstrated a landmark technological achievement in the nuclear industry's ability to take in-vessel measurements and track cycle-to-cycle degradation with the deployment of a nuclear underwater laser scanner specifically designed to deliver precise measurements in underwater radiation environments typical of BWR and PWR vessel work.
The NM200UW laser scanner, developed and manufactured by Newton Labs, was deployed by the Westinghouse team at their client's site, the NextEra Energy, Duane Arnold Energy Center (DAEC) near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They successfully scanned critical areas of the steam dryer and separator, as well as documented the as-built condition of a modification on the steam dryer during the site's scheduled refueling outage in October 2010.
"This demonstration marks an important step toward bringing simple and accurate measurements to an industry that has been limited in the past," said Jim Brennan, vice president of Westinghouse's Engineering Services business segment. "This laser scanning technology allows us to accurately and consistently capture precise measurements that are critical to the successful design of reactor internals modification and replacement hardware without the need for custom tooling."
With a demonstrated accuracy of 0.005" (0.127mm) or better, the technology will also, in many cases, eliminate the need for less-accurate traditional measurement techniques such as video scaling, or local area measurements performed remotely with a ruler attached to a handling pole.
Jim DuBay, the Westinghouse program manager, said, "It's exciting to see a technology that will eliminate one of the longstanding risks of performing reactor modifications, which is that limited information can be collected from a reactor component that can only be accessed remotely." The Newton scanner produces a dense point cloud output that is used to generate a measurable 3D computer-aided design (CAD) model. The technology's ability to accurately model critical features such as indications, welds, as-built conditions, and plant components will greatly reduce the risk of costly rework when a reactor modification is delivered to a site. "The ability to compare the actual component and the CAD model that our engineers are building will allow us to proactively identify and account for non-conformances that would have previously gone unnoticed until installation," DuBay noted.
"The laser scanner is durably designed with built-in radiation tolerance," said Rob Wheeler, vice president of Newton Labs. "It has performed well during previous deployments in the presence of significant Gamma radiation levels with no loss in performance or persistent degradation."
The successful results gained by Westinghouse at the Duane Arnold Energy Center demonstrate that the Newton scanner will outperform traditional in-vessel survey and measurement techniques by producing accurate 3-D CAD renderings of numerous vessel components.
Westinghouse Electric Company, a group company of Toshiba Corporation (TKY:6502), is the world's pioneering nuclear energy company and is a leading supplier of nuclear plant products and technologies to utilities throughout the world. Westinghouse supplied the world's first commercial PWR in 1957 in Shippingport, Pa. Today, Westinghouse technology is the basis for approximately one-half of the world's operating nuclear plants, including 60 percent of those in the United States.
Newton Research Labs 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.