Novel electromagnetic technique for repositioning of coolant tube spacers in CANDU nuclear reactors

Dableh, Joseph H.
June 1986
Review of Scientific Instruments;Jun86, Vol. 57 Issue 6, p1201
Academic Journal
A novel electromagnetic technique to reposition the coolant tube spacers in the fuel channels of CANDU nuclear reactors was successfully developed in the fall of 1983 at Ontario Hydro Research Division. The need to reposition dislocated spacers in noncommissioned reactors was discovered subsequent to the rupture of a pressure tube in one reactor at the Pickering Nuclear Generator Station in Ontario. A contributing factor to the failure of the tube was the fact that the annular spacers (garter springs), used to maintain the coaxial configuration between the pressure tube and its surrounding calandria tube, had been displaced longitudinally for a number of years. Subsequent to this finding, it was discovered that a number of garter springs in noncommissioned nuclear reactors were displaced due to vibration induced by various sources during the construction stage. Since the garter springs are not directly accessible by mechanical means, extensive dismantling of the fuel channels would have been necessary to reposition the springs in their designated locations. This paper describes a novel method to reposition the garter springs without dismantling the fuel channels. The method consists of exerting a force on the springs in the direction of the required displacement by applying a large electromagnetic impulse (generated by a 200-kJ capacitor bank) to a drive coil inserted into the pressure tube opposite the spacer. The repositioning of displaced garter springs in five new reactors in Ontario has been carried out successfully in 1984. The saving in reactor repair cost, interest charges, and replacement energy cost was on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars. Equally large benefits and savings will be realized if the need to use this technique in commissioned reactors arises. Also, the related development of strong compact coils and low-resistance pulse power cable have significant implications and advantages in various other applications related to the pulse...


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