Endel SRA develops a robotic and miniaturized tooling composed of a camera capable of penetrating the heart of a key perimeter for electricity production. This technology will make it possible to carry out an accurate diagnosis of the water passages composing the spacer plates (PE) of the steam generator (GV)*.
As a subsidiary of the Altrad Group, a specialist in energy services, Endel supports its industrial customers by offering industrial services in environments that are demanding in terms of safety and quality.
Responsible, among other things, for carrying out advanced diagnostics in the service of nuclear maintenance, the teams of Endel SRA, a subsidiary of Endel, develop and manufacture remotely operated tools for different types of operations including inspection and television examination (ETV) of spacer plates. These maintain the same space between the tubes placed in the steam generator and allow the passage of water.
On the different slices of the French fleet, the equipment does not always have the same characteristics. Currently, existing maintenance technologies do not allow for the inspection/examination of all spacer plates. The Endel SRA teams have therefore devised a tailor-made teleoperated tool capable of entering the steam generator. Equipped with a 4 mm camera, this tiny robot with lighting that can project up to 1 m will inspect/examine the plates hitherto not very accessible. The stakes are high: the television examination is decisive to ensure effective and proactive maintenance and contributes significantly to the nuclear safety of the CNPE.
Strengthen park safety by reducing the risk of exposure
"Once prototyped, this little technological gem will represent an important step forward in the modernization of nuclear maintenance tools, while optimizing the safety and radiation exposure of maintenance operators. It will no longer be necessary for an operator to enter the GV to position the current inspection tank," the company said.
To carry out this project under development, the Endel SRA teams have obtained from the France Relance plan a subsidy corresponding to half of the overall investment required, i.e. €850,000. The goal is to finalize the first robot by the end of 2022.
"The realization of these diagnostic operations requires very high precision and involves cutting-edge know-how, while being strategic for the safety of the park," says Jean-Paul Mandier, CEO of Endel SRA. Faced with steam generators of different designs, we have identified the best way to overcome the impossibility of accessing certain plates. This is how the project "Television expertise of the spacer plates of steam generators" was born, in a process of development and technical and operational optimization of the maintenance of nuclear installations. »
* Steam generators are essential for the production of electricity. The heat produced in the reactor core is transmitted via the circulation of water in a closed circuit – called a primary circuit – to a secondary circuit whose water, transformed into steam, feeds turbines for the production of electricity. The heat exchange between the primary circuit and the secondary circuit is done through a large number of tubes held by several spacer plates inside the steam generator. (source www.irsn.fr)