Sensors used in the nuclear energy sector are required to have a very long service life with extremely low failure rates. Loadcells from Novatech measurements have been used in a number of applications for many years to ensure that safety controls continue to function correctly at all times.
At time of publication, the UK is constructing a new 3,200MW nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, Somerset, close to two existing sites. The development of this new site has proven to be extremely unpopular with many local residents due to safety fears. The main point of concern is a perceived lack of planning for the disposal of waste material, meaning it would be held on site indefinitely.
Although hazardous, nuclear waste material is not problematic for the environment provided it is correctly contained and can even be reused by a number of modern power stations. The fuel itself is extremely dense, so the amount of fuel used and amount of waste product is not nearly as large as most people would believe. However, this does not change the fact that much of the global disdain for nuclear power is down to similar safety concerns to those expressed by the residents of Hinkley Point, particularly given high- profile incidents such as Chernobyl and Three-mile Island. Safety will always be a critical issue for nuclear power stations and loadcells can be used in a number of applications to ensure all operations are as safe as possible.
Loadcells provided by Novatech are currently in use in numerous applications including:
- Operation of partition and blast shield doors
- Control of robot manipulator arms
- Multi-axis testing of core resistance to seismic events
- Impact testing to simulate critical failure of items suspended above reactor
- Monitoring fuel rod insertion forces
- Cooling and dismantling of spent fuel rods
- Processing and safe disposal of waste products
Low failure rates for safety critical applications can easily be ensured by offering built in redundancy in the form of an additional independent bridge circuit. This guards against unexpected single component failures. Combined with the already minimal failure rate that Novatech provides, we can expect our products to have a service life of at least 10 years. We are proud of the fact that we regularly hear from customers who have loadcells that are still in operation some 25 years or more after purchase.
Novatech are able to offer components and materials suitable for most applications, in this case offering excellent resistance to high levels of radiation. Feel free to contact one of our engineers to discuss your application and receive a no obligation quotation.