Conference Proceedings Paper
Impact of Aging and Material Structure on CANDU® Plant Performance
9th International Conference on CANDU® Maintenance - 2011 December 04-06
Eric Nadeau (Candu Energy Inc.)
John Ballyk (Candu Energy Inc.)
Negin Ghalavand (Candu Energy Inc.)
In-service behaviour of pressure tubes is a key factor in the assessment of safety margins during plant operation. Pressure tube deformation (diametral expansion) affects fuel bundle dry out characteristics resulting in reduced margin to trip for some events. Pressure tube aging mechanisms also erode design margins on fuel channels or interfacing reactor components. The degradation mechanisms of interest are primarily deformation, loss of fracture resistance and hydrogen ingress. CANDU® (CANada Deuterium Uranium, a registered trademark of the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited used under exclusive licence by Candu Energy Inc.) owners and operators need to maximize plant capacity factor and meet or exceed the reactor design life targets while maintaining safety margins. The degradation of pressure tube material and geometry are characterized through a program of inspection, material surveillance and assessment and need to be managed to optimize plant performance.
Candu is improving pressure tubes installed in new build and life extension projects. Improvements include changes designed to reduce or mitigate the impact of pressure tube elongation and diametral expansion rates, improvement of pressure tube fracture properties, and reduction of the implications of hydrogen ingress. In addition, Candu provides an extensive array of engineering services designed to assess the condition of pressure tubes and address the impact of pressure tube degradation on safety margins and plant performance. These services include periodic and in-service inspection and material surveillance of pressure tubes and deterministic and probabilistic assessment of pressure tube fitness for service to applicable standards. Activities designed to mitigate the impact of pressure tube deformation on safety margins include steam generator cleaning, which improves trip margins, and trip design assessment to optimize reactor trip set points restoring safety and operating margins.
This paper provides an overview of Candu’s activities both in improving pressure tubes and mitigating the impact of pressure tube degradation on the performance of existing plants.
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