FAE SA, the Argentinean manufacturer of seamless zirconium tubing for nuclear fuel elements has signed a contract to supply Alloy 690 seamless tubes to manufacture 12 helicoidal steam generators for the National Atomic Energy Commission’s (CNEA’s) CAREM small modular reactor (SMR) project. The tubes are 35 metres long - the longest ever made for this application - and will be delivered during 2017.
CAREM (Central ARgentina de Elementos Modulares) is an indigenous design and the first prototype is being built at a new facility, on the site of a former heavy water research facility adjacent to the Atucha nuclear plant. According to CNEA, it will include facilities for training operators and performing other research. The government plans to invest ARS3.5bn ($455m) in the prototype, including the infrastructure needed to produce the pressure vessel and other major components. CNEA says at least 70% of components and related services will be supplied by domestic companies and will fully meet international standards.
CAREM will produce approximately 25MWe of net electrical power from an indigenously produced reactor core that will provide approximately 100MWt of thermal energy. It uses natural circulation in its primary coolant system. The flow of water through the nuclear heat source and through the steam generators is driven by temperature, density variation and gravity.
Last September CNEA awarded a contract to a joint venture between Tecna (a global Engineering, Procurement and Construction company focused on the Oil and Gas and Nuclear Energy markets) and Germany’s Siemens to supply the balance of plant for the SMR. The contract covers the entire conventional island and the tertiary circuit, as well as the demineralisation plant and the auxiliary boiler. Work under the contract is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, followed by a trial operation period ending in July 2019. Commercial operation of the prototype reactor will then follow. First concrete was poured for the prototype in February 2014, marking the official start of its construction.