Sulzer's nuclear pump maintenance resources

At Sulzer's Chattanooga service centre for the nuclear industry every manufacturing process is completed by experienced engineers.
At Sulzer's Chattanooga service centre for the nuclear industry every manufacturing process is completed by experienced engineers.

As a pump manufacturer and independent maintenance provider, Sulzer is well placed to offer specialist technical knowledge and support for all types of pumps, including those from other manufacturers.

One area that requires specialist skills and expertise is the nuclear power sector and Sulzer has established a service center in Chattanooga, TN, that offers a comprehensive suite of resources tailored to this application.

The nuclear industry operates in quite a unique position in that it has a defined date when the site will be decommissioned so the aim is to ensure that all the assets on site will provide reliable service throughout the plant’s life. Operators look to minimize running and maintenance costs by introducing design changes that will preserve the existing assets and add to reliability.

Specialist resources There can be no margin for error in a nuclear power plant, everything must perform exactly as it was designed, but there is still room for improvements to be added. Sulzer specializes in assessing legacy equipment and adding value by modifying a design or changing a material so that durability is improved.

While Sulzer offers support to all pumping applications, its service centre in Chattanooga, TN, offers a specialist service that is tailored to the exacting requirements of nuclear power plants. Eric Jenkins, manager nuclear sales at Chattanooga, explains: "Every part of a project is handled by highly experienced engineers, managers and designers to ensure that every repair, upgrade or reverse engineering task is delivered on time with particular attention to industry specifications.”

Case in point In a recent project, Sulzer has designed and manufactured a set of six replacement raw water cooling pumps for a nuclear installation. The new pumps had a lower specific speed than the originals, reducing their power requirements, which improved the margin on the diesel generators. The pumps met all of the required specifications as well improving performance and reducing vibration.

The key to this improvement was understanding the pump curves and how they interact with each other. Previous issues with original pumps were resolved but, more importantly, the amount of power required from the diesel generators to run the pumps was significantly reduced. This action removed any need to re-rate the generators, which could have cost millions of dollars.

Making the grade Where necessary, Sulzer assumes responsibility for the design, reverse engineering and certification of pumps and assemblies for most original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The quality assurance program employed at Chattanooga Service Center is certified and audited to meet the requirements of 10CFR50 Appendix B, part 21, and ASME N and NPT Class 1, 2 and 3.

The focus on improved durability can often involve improving the metallurgy of a component or refining impeller geometry to minimize cavitation. Every application has its own set of challenges and Sulzer is fully equipped to assess performance, deliver specific recommendations and implement them.

Using the lastest data capture tools, laser scanners and precision machine tools, Sulzer can create new components with improved hydraulic performance and extended durability.

Round-the-clock support In addition to planned support, there is also a demand for out-of-hours assistance. The power generation industry operates round the clock and as a key provider of engineering support, the service center at Chattanooga offers support 24/7.

Eric Jenkins concludes: “The ideal scenario is for all maintenance projects to be carefully planned, but occasionally unexpected issues can arise that require an immediate response and Sulzer has the necessary resources to support customers, day or night. In this way, repair projects can be delivered in the shortest possible time, minimizing disruption and returning assets to full operational status at the earliest opportunity.”