The majority of operating nuclear power plants were initially designed with an expected operating life of 30 to 40 years, after which, the power plant would be decommissioned. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there are 451 operable civil nuclear power nuclear reactors around the world, many of which are approaching the end of their initial design life. In order to extend the operation of these plants, extensive projects must be conducted to refurbish existing equipment and infrastructure.
At first glance, these plant renovations may seem relatively simple, but much of the original equipment, parts, and systems are no longer being manufactured. As such, reverse engineering of the mechanical and electrical equipment must be performed to create functional replacements that operate safely and reliably while satisfying regulatory guidelines.
The Ageing Nuclear Plant Problem
With many nuclear power plants approaching their decommissioning date, operators are looking for ways to prolong the life of existing plants. Much of the mechanical and electrical systems utilize parts that are obsolete in the sense that they are no longer manufactured. Replacing these systems presents a significant technical challenge coupled with strict regulations that must also be satisfied.
Continuing nuclear plant operations beyond the initial design life dramatically increases the risk of equipment failure. In a nuclear power plant setting, any system failure can lead to significant safety risks to personnel, the wider population, and the environment. Therefore, engineering solutions to extend the life of these aging plants must be conducted with great care.
AZZ Reverse Engineering Solution
AZZ Nuclear has the expertise to reverse engineer critical electrical components for nuclear facilities to extend the life of the plant while maintaining regulatory compliance.
With proper reverse engineering, nuclear power plants could extend their operating life up to 20 years under the current United States regulations. Additional extension regulations could allow this to be increased by another 20 years, given the nuclear facilities are safe to operate.
AZZ Nuclear has pioneered the reverse engineering of electrical components for nuclear facilities. With a wide variety of reverse engineered solutions such as power supplies, control modules, and boards, AZZ knows what it takes to successfully replacement components for obsolete equipment in nuclear power plants. In fact, our Instrumentation Services division has developed hundreds of reverse engineering solutions including replacements for over forty power supply models.
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