April 2014

Low Cost, High Impact Cable Condition Monitoring System Improves U. S. Nuclear Power Plant Operations, Safety, and Systems Reliability

Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation’s CHAR 2012 system identifies and readily locates problems in the conductor and insulation of nuclear power plant cables.

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CHAR System Indication of a Cable Fault.

R&D Opportunity

Nuclear power provides over 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply without harmful greenhouse gases or air pollutants. New methods and technologies are needed to address key issues that affect the future deployment of nuclear energy and to preserve the U.S. leadership in nuclear technology and engineering, while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation.

As nuclear power plants age, older components are replaced or upgraded to improve operations and safety. However, a few components, including electrical cables, are not easily replaced and are vital for safety related systems. The health of these cables and the reliability of their signal transmissions are affected by the aging condition of cable insulation, jacket material, conductors, and connectors. Thus, the ability to monitor and detect the location of cable degradation is an important part of preventing cable related system failures and maintaining overall plant safety and reliability.

Solution

In FY 2011 the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy funded SBIR R&D to improve and optimize nuclear power plant systems and operational performance, along with component instrumentation and control. To address cable aging, the nuclear industry has been looking for a test system that can help with automated maintenance and condition monitoring of cables. Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS) successfully completed the DOE SBIR Phase I portion of its research project by establishing the feasibility of integrating advanced cable diagnostic capabilities into a single portable cable maintenance test package. In Phase II, this conceptual design was further developed into a fully functional prototype system, the CHAR 2012, and performs a series of electrical measurements to identify and locate problems along a cable’s conductor, connector, or insulation material. As a multichannel system, the CHAR 2012 tests numerous cables simulatenously, saving time and labor-intensive personnel costs.

Impact

The AMS CHAR 2012 was successfully demonstrated in two U. S. nuclear power plants and even prevented an unplanned outage of one plant. The power plant was experiencing erratic readings from a neutron detector in a nuclear instrumentation channel. The CHAR 2012 system identified issues in the plant’s cable circuit and prevented the unnecessary replacement of the detector, saving an estimated $200,000 in materials and labor. The problem with the cable was repaired without shutting down the plant and without exposing power plant personnel to the increased radiation levels normally associated with detector replacement.

In addition to in-plant test services, AMS sold over a million dollars of this equipment to four U.S. nuclear power plants even before the phase II project was completed. The final commercialization of this research effort is resulting in improving nuclear power plant operations, safety, and systems reliability and ultimately lowering plant operating costs.

Contact

D. Mitchell
Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation
darrell@ams-corp.com

Funding

Company Name:Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation
Project Title:Integrated System for Management of Cable Aging in Nuclear Power Plants
Award Type:SBIR Phase II
Year of Award:2011
DOE Office:Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE Grant Number:DE-FG02-10ER85822

Related Links

Analysis and Measurement Services CorporationExternal link

Highlight Categories

Program: NE

Last modified: 5/12/2014 1:09:25 PM