The special ingredient for nuclear plant life extensions is ready availability of legacy parts

24 November 2023

Extending the life of existing nuclear power plants supports the availability of reliable low-carbon power and the transition to clean energy. For an industry distributed right across the globe, people working within nuclear power are a tight-knit crew. Nuclear engineers operating plants in different countries often compare notes about their experiences, including concerns around aging and obsolescence.

Replacing parts is routine until stocks run out and can't be replenished

Although there’s an increasingly open-minded approach to the total lifespan of nuclear power plants, the same is not true for component parts. Many parts have a strictly controlled operating life that is far shorter than the plant itself. At regular intervals, operators will replace parts to avoid any risk of them failing. This is a straightforward routine to follow until a part type enters its fourth, fifth or sixth decade since launch. As you might imagine, the chance of any part being available reduces as time progresses. 

Limited availability of critical legacy parts 

Several factors combine to decrease parts availability. Firstly, the market for a single part type wasn’t large to being with. Globally, few plants of the same design were ever built. Where manufacturing standard parts for use across the entire industry was theoretically possible, differences in national regulatory regimes and operating practices meant parts had to be versioned, with relatively low demand for each. As aging plants are switched off, a large percentage of demand for their parts goes with them. With the manufacturing of parts a commercial challenge to start with, it becomes increasingly problematic over time, with many suppliers inevitably deciding to discontinue supply.  

Ultra Energy is capable of replacing, remanufacturing or reverse engineering parts to guarantee ongoing supply

With replacement parts an unavoidable challenge to extending the life of nuclear power plants, support from suppliers able to replace, remanufacture or reverse engineer discontinued parts is in growing demand, and that’s exactly where the capabilities of Ultra Energy stand out.

Ultra Energy‘s nuclear heritage stretches back to the first days of nuclear power, which gives us deep understanding of part technologies used across the decades. This underpins our ability to replace parts first developed decades ago that are now discontinued. We do this by supplying newly designed parts that have a similar form and perform the same function as the originals, remanufacturing legacy parts to original designs or reverse engineering them from existing examples still in use. 

Our DTC3 replaces a nearly ubiquitous but now discontinued pressure transmitter

For example, we designed our DTC3 analog pressure transmitter to directly replace the Rosemount 1151 analog pressure transmitter, which was discontinued in 2011. The Rosemount part is installed in nearly all US nuclear power plants. It provides pressure measurements for non-safety nuclear applications and a plant’s entire temperature and pressure system relied on it. The ready availability of our DTC3 pressure transmitters ensures those plants can continue in their essential power generation role.

We're determined to sustain existing nuclear power capacity as new capacity it built

The DTC3 is just one example in which Ultra Energy has supplied critical parts and documentation to meet different functional and regulatory needs in national nuclear markets. Always with an eye on sustaining and growing nuclear power capacity worldwide, we continuously connect with customers around the world to discuss their aging and obsolescence requirements, including what specific parts they need to keep plants up and running for years to come.


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