Condition monitoring solutions for nuclear power plants

Condition monitoring and testing applications for nuclear power plants require different technologies and measuring chains.

Modern nuclear power plants include condition monitoring systems to ensure safety, efficiency and performance. Kistler delivers state-of-the art online monitoring solutions for the nuclear energy sector. Such application-specific sensors and systems can also be retrofitted to plants already in operation.

Nuclear energy was first used to power an electric light bulb in 1948; today, nuclear power plants generate around 14 percent of the world's power output – with a raising tendency: many countries all over the world continue to invest in this emission-free technology widely perceived as a bridge to future-proof and carbon-neutral energy supply – either with traditional nuclear power plants or novel small modular reactors (SMR).

Measurement technology from Kistler plays a vital part in typical applications inside and outside the reactor: loose-part monitoring, flow-induced vibration monitoring and dynamic pressure measurement for example. Kistler has proven experience from various installed solutions in plant subsystems such as steam generators, cores and pipes.

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High temperature capability

For use in hot environments, Kistler provides high-temperature pressure sensors and accelerometers capable of withstanding 700°C and above (1000°C on the short term).

Robust and reliable design

Condition monitoring solutions from Kistler are applied in nuclear power plants worldwide and dispose of special design elements to reliably operate in harsh environments.

High sensitivity and short rise time

To enable real-time monitoring of safety and performance critical systems, our sensors come with a high natural frequency – e.g. to capture small pressure pulsations on high static pressure.

High thermal stability

Reactors are environments with fast and heavy temperature changes. For accurate measurement, Kistler sensors offer high thermal stability thanks to optimized membranes.

Ready-to-use systems for different testing applications

Loose part monitoring helps to avoid damages in nuclear power plants.

Loose part monitoring

Nuclear power plants are complex structures with thousands of small components such as fixtures, valves and screws. Loose parts resulting from wear and fatigue or maintenance errors can cause critical safety and performance issues. Early detection of loose parts helps to avoid or mitigate damage and malfunction of primary system components.

A Loose Part Monitoring System (LPMS) typically consists of a set of accelerometers placed in critical spots of the monitored system (e.g. reactor vessels, steam generators or coolant pumps) and according cabling and electronics for data processing. Kistler is able to deliver complete measuring chains for LPMS based on specific customer requirements.

Proper vibration monitoring and testing ensures safe nuclear power plant operation, maximum efficiency and power output.

Vibration monitoring and testing

Flow-induced vibrations (FIV) hamper performance and can lead to safety-critical malfunctions. Main tests include model testing of the pressure water reactor (PWR), the rod control cluster (RCC) and the steam generator. Being small in size and water proof, having high temperature stability and being able to capture the dynamic response during the entire testing phase, Kistler sensors are the first choice.

Proper testing of components inside and outside the reactor ensures safe nuclear power plant operation to maximize its efficiency and power output. A special procedure conducted in this field is fretting wear testing, for example in tubes of steam generators. Fretting wear often occurs as a result of relative motion between contacting components. In contrast to sliding wear, these flow-induced motions typically have low amplitudes.

Pressure pulsation measurement in nuclear power plants ensures safety and optimizes performance.

Dynamic pressure measurement

In the reactor circulation system (e.g. the flow equalization board) and connected piping systems of a nuclear power plant, pressure pulsations have to be tested and monitored in order to ensure safety and to optimize performance – especially in case of using modern speed-controlled circulation pumps which can induce pipe noise and vibration.

With the help of miniature, highly sensitive and very temperature stable pressure transducers, fluid resonances and even small pressure pulsations on top of high static pressures can be captured precisely. For such conditioning monitoring applications we offer piezoelectric pressure sensors with charge or voltage output, flexible measuring ranges (up to 250 bar) and wide temperature ranges.

Kistler can provide you with custom measurement solutions for nuclear power plant testing applications.

Other applications

In case of special requirements, we can provide you with custom solutions for your application. Our expertise covers areas such as:

  • Tribology testing
  • Safety valve testing
  • Corium melt drop testing
  • Regular surveys to prevent vibration fatigue on pressurized water reactors

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