Feature Article

Dixon and Hafen: An update on robotics and plant maintenance

Joe Dixon

Hubert Hafen

Wälischmiller Engineering (HWM), of Markdorf, Germany, has joined forces with NuVision Engineering (NVE) to form NuVision-Wälischmiller under parent company Carr’s Engineering. The NVE-HWM team develops, demonstrates, and deploys engineered remote systems and robotics to meet the high safety standards, quality requirements, and challenging demands of the nuclear industry.

HWM specializes in remote-handling and robotic solutions for hazardous applications. Since 1946, HWM has been delivering a range of remote-handling solutions, including precision manipulators, tools, and controllers, to the nuclear industry.

NVE, founded in 1971, is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., with major operational facilities in Charlotte, N.C. The company delivers engineered solutions and services to its customers in the nuclear markets of commercial power, research, isotope production, and government cleanup sectors. NuVision develops, demonstrates, and deploys technology-based solutions that help extend the life and safe operation of power plants, improve new plant designs, and remediate government-owned legacy waste sites.

Joe Dixon is the robotics director at NVE. For nearly 20 years, he has provided solutions for the global nuclear industry and has conceived, designed, fabricated, deployed, and managed teams for advanced robotics, isotope production, scientific research, decommissioning, energy production, process maintenance, and remote handling. Having worked on large projects around the world, Dixon is one of the industry’s leaders in remote-handling and robotics technologies.

Hubert Hafen is the chief technology officer for HWM. With more than 30 years of experience in the nuclear industry, Hafen has served as chief engineer and project manager for a large number of international remote-handling projects, such as remote-handling equipment for the decommissioning of the Greifswald nuclear power plant in Germany, the decommissioning of the reprocessing plant in Karlsruhe, Germany, planning for the remote equipment for the ITER project, and several remote-handling projects in Japan, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. His ability to present clients with problem solving has made him renowned in the robotics world.

Dixon and Hafen talked recently with Nuclear News editor-in-chief Rick Michal about what is new in robotics and remote-handling systems.

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Feature Article

Robotics at Palo Verde

The Zephyr system uses probes for steam generator inspections. Photos: APS

The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, a three-unit pressurized water reactor plant operated by Arizona Public Service Company, has started using an inspection technology relatively new to the nuclear industry. The technology, called smart pigs (an acronym for “piping inline gauges”), has previously been employed by oil and gas companies for inspecting and cleaning underground pipes. After testing and analyzing smart pig products from several companies, Palo Verde’s underground piping consultant, Dan Wittas, selected a smart pig suitable for navigating the tight-radius bends in the plant’s spray pond piping. The spray pond system consists of piping, a pump, and a reservoir where hot water (from the Palo Verde plant) is cooled before reuse by pumping it through spray nozzles into the cooler air. Smart pigs work by using the water’s flow through the piping to move an inspection tool within the pipe itself. The technology replaces the previous method of pipe inspection, in which various relatively small sections of piping were unearthed and directly inspected, and were considered to be representative examples of the overall piping condition. In contrast, the smart pigs obtain corrosion levels for the length of piping traveled through and allow a corrosion baseline to be established.

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Feature Article

HPS's Eric Goldin: On health physics

Eric Goldin, president of the Health Physics Society, is a radiation safety specialist with 40 years of experience in power reactor health physics, supporting worker and public radiation safety programs. A certified health physicist since 1984, he has served on the American Board of Health Physics, and since 2004, he has been a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements’ Program Area Committee 2, which provides guidance for radiation safety in occupational settings for a variety of industries and activities. He was awarded HPS Fellow status in 2012 and was elected to the NCRP in 2014.

Goldin’s radiological engineering experience includes ALARA programs, instrumentation, radioactive waste management, emergency planning, dosimetry, decommissioning, licensing, effluents, and environmental monitoring.

The HPS, headquartered in Herndon, Va., is the largest radiation safety society in the world. Its membership includes scientists, safety professionals, physicists, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals from academia, industry, medical institutions, state and federal government, the national laboratories, the military, and other organizations.

The HPS’s activities include encouraging research in radiation science, developing standards, and disseminating radiation safety information. Its members are involved in understanding, evaluating, and controlling the potential risks from radiation relative to the benefits.

Goldin talked about the HPS and health physics activities with Rick Michal, editor-in-chief of Nuclear News.

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Feature Article

Remote fuel cleaning from across the globe

Around the world in the mid-March time frame, conditions were changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as was everyone’s understanding of it. For nuclear power plants, the pandemic meant dealing with new government regulations and restrictions that were put in place. “U.S.-based support of international clients was especially challenging,” said Mike Little, president and principal officer of Reston, Va.–based Dominion Engineering Inc. (DEI). “With border closures going into effect, we were not only focusing on the health and safety of our workers abroad, but also making sure they would be able to return home. Providing remote subject matter expertise from the U.S. through our international service partners was critical to successful job execution during this time.”

When a nuclear plant closes

Theresa Knickerbocker, the mayor of the village of Buchanan, N.Y., where the Indian Point nuclear power plant is located, is not happy. What has gotten Ms. Knickerbocker’s ire up is the fact that Indian Point’s Unit 2 was closed on April 30, and Unit 3 is scheduled to close in 2021. The village, population 2,300, is about 1.3 square miles total, with the Indian Point site comprising 240 acres along the Hudson River, 30 miles upstream of Manhattan. Unit 2 was a 1,028-MWe pressurized water reactor; Unit 3 is a 1,041-MWe PWR.

The nuclear plant provides the revenue for half of Buchanan’s annual $6-million budget, Knickerbocker told Nuclear News. That’s $3 million in tax revenues each year that eventually will go away. How will that revenue be replaced? Where will the replacement power come from?