F1 technology technology for nuclear plants
Technology developed for motor racing will be used to monitor nuclear pump operation in a feasibility study aimed at improving efficiency
A consortium between Cosworth Group and Glasgow-based Clyde Union Pumps has been awarded funding to perform a feasibility study focused on improving the operational monitoring of nuclear pumping equipment.
For the study, Cosworth Group will use its electronics technologies as data loggers to monitor the pumps that are responsible for circulating water around a reactor under normal operating and potential fault conditions. These pumps are critical components in the safe operation of nuclear reactor installations and are major investments for the operator.
Northampton, UK-based Cosworth Group will be working in partnership with Clyde Union Pumps, who will provide access to a typical pump in a test-lab environment and, if consent can be obtained from an operator, at a client’s premises for durability testing
The total project cost is £107,970, which is being part funded by a Technology Strategy Board grant and is expected to be complete by November 2011. It will employ a combination of technology developed for Cosworth’s activities in the Formula One motor racing industry and Clyde Union Pumps’ nuclear pumping equipment, said a Cosworth statement.
The focus, it added, will be on parameters such as speed, temperature, flow rate and vibration, which will be monitored in real time to identify whether a pump is approaching or has exceeded any operational limits of its design or is due for scheduled maintenance.
The project is focused on pumps used in main feedwater pumps in the nuclear island, according to Ben Roberts, sales manager, energy, at Cosworth.
Condition monitoring technologies currently used on pumps used in these nuclear applications typically feature vibration monitoring, as well as checks on individual parameters, such as pressure, temperature, said Roberts. Monitoring, however, does not include advanced real-time monitoring.
The feasibility study utilises Cosworth’s Diablo software originally developed for control and monitoring of wind tunnels used to develop Formula One racing cars, according to the Cosworth manager.
“Real-time high-fidelity monitoring will enable Clyde Union’s engineers to gain an in-depth complete picture of the data associated with the pumps,” Roberts explained.
“Existing periodic testing does not provide data on the period running up to an event or easy access to associated data. With this system, all the associated data in the period leading up to an event will be accessible via a single data set.
This technology is equally appropriate to other industries and applications, noted the Cosworth manager, pointing out that the opportunity to work with Clyde Union on nuclear pumps arose through the grant funding made available by the TSB.
“It’s absolutely critical that the nuclear industry has the best technology to ensure safety, availability and efficiency,” commented Jog Lall, Cosworth Group sales director.
“Being able to record performance data in real time will provide an instant view of the status of any operational nuclear pump. We believe that this approach can have an important impact in the industry,” the Cosworth executive added.
l Clyde Union Pumps’ capabilities in the nuclear industry were highlighted by a recent $15-million (£9.3-million) order for advanced pumps for a Chinese nuclear programme. The contract was for six main feed water pumps and associated equipment for the Fuqing 3 and 4 nuclear power plants in Fujian Province, southwest China.
The Scottish company also claims that its TWL pump design requires no external services, which makes it much more robust, including in dealing with catastrophic events such as the recent Japanese tsunami.