Exelon Nuclear has claimed the Nuclear Energy Institute's Top Industry Practice (TIP) Award for innovation in the Maintenance Category following introduction of a fuel alignment measurement system at three generating stations: Byron, Braidwood and Three Mile Island. The core mapping technology developed by Newton Labs of Seattle, Washington, enables plant operators to accurately measure the positions of all fuel assemblies in a PWR reactor at the end of an outage.
The TIP award cites the team, led by Exelon Nuclear PWR Reactor Service Manager David B. Kelly, for promoting the successful deployment of the technology at the three plants. This resulted in Exelon approving the measurement technique, named the NM200E Core Verification System, as their primary method for determining nozzle position in PWRs. The NM200E system, which was first developed by Newton Labs in a 2008 partnership with Exelon, delivers measurable advantages over legacy processes, such as binoculars or video micrometers in both accuracy and mapping time. These visual inspection methods are imprecise and can allow misaligned fuel assemblies to be overlooked or misjudged.
The significance of the NM200E system to Exelon plant engineers is that it a produces a precise global map of all S-hole positions of the PWR fuel assemblies within a core, including any degree of misalignment or top nozzle rotation. The Newton-developed software automatically recognizes, compares and maps the S-hole locations with those of the ideal positions established by plant engineers. The software compensates for the visually distorting issues of thermal turbulence and light refraction. Also of considerable value is that the system can be deployed, completely map a core and be recovered within two hours or less.
The TIP award was made on May 22 during the Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA).
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