More than 700 specially manufactured tubes for the steam generators associated with the so-called CAREM project in Argentina – the Central Argentina de Elementos Modulares project – have been delivered to the construction site near the Atucha Nuclear Power Plant, CONUAR announced last week. CONUAR is the acronym for Combustibles Nucleares Argentinos, the organization that is moving forward with the country's first domestically designed nuclear power reactor of any kind.
This, the country's first, will be a 32MWe prototype unit that is envisioned as a scalable modular-based pressurized water reactor with the potential to scale up to a 120MWe model.
CONUAR said the tubes – there will be 52 of them in six layers for each generator – were treated in a specially designed furnace that allowed for their length and the carefully controlled thermal dynamics. The tubes are 35 meters long, which required construction of a world's longest vacuum furnace, which was built at 37 meters with 18 separate computerized thermal zones to ensure consistent stress-treatment heating. The furnace, CONOUR said, operated between 500 and 850 degrees Celsius.
The eventual small reactor is scheduled to be made 70 percent of components built in Argentina. The tubes, in this case, had to be straight and seamless. They were built under standards set by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA). They were made with input from the CNEA's Department of Mechanical Engineering, Materials and Non-Destructive Testing and Fabrica de Aleaciones Especiales (FAE).
“Each of CAREM25's GV is made up of a system of helical tubes grouped in six layers. CONUAR has participated on the detailed engineering and will be in charge of the qualification and development of the turns and welds for manufacture of the first mock up, whose production will begin during 2018,” CONUAR said.
The reactor is designed to be operational for a “minimum of 60 years – and has specific features such as the integration inside the pressure vessel of all the components of the primary system and the Gvs; the use of lightly enriched uranium (less than 4 percent), moderation and cooling with light water, the implementation of passive safety systems and an innovative hydraulc control rod positioning system.” the company said in a statement.
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