Robinson Nuclear Plant Hires Westinghouse to Conduct Underwater Laser Beam Welding – First of Its Kind in U.S.

Progress Energy’s Robinson nuclear plant has hired Westinghouse to work on reactor vessel nozzles using an automated, underwater laser technology that’s never been used before at a U.S. plant.

In a release Tuesday, Westinghouse said it will conduct the work on dissimilar metal welds on the nozzles during an outage next year.

Laser beam welder. Source: Westinghouse"Development of the underwater laser welding process allows us to make welds to vessel components without the customer having to drain their vessel," Nick Liparulo, senior vice president of Westinghouse Nuclear Services, said in the release. "This results in a much shorter implementation schedule and dramatically reduced exposure for maintenance crews and plant personnel."

The laser replaces the electrified tungsten used in traditional underwater welding techniques. The machine, developed jointly with Westinghouse parent company Toshiba, can deposit a corrosion-resistant inlay and seal cracks up to about 0.5 mm, according to WNS sales material. The technology has been used successfully abroad, including for fiber laser peening applied to penetration nozzles and core shrouds at 10 plants. It was also used to repair a jet pump in 2006.

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