The Tricastin nuclear power plant located at Pierrelatte in southeastern France is owned and operated by EDF. The plant comprises four 915MW pressurised water reactor units, which were commissioned between 1980 and 1981. It is one of the oldest nuclear power plants in France.

Blastrac, which develops and manufactures surface preparation equipment, recently delivered heavy-duty electric shavers to the Tricastin plant.

“The objective of our customer was to remove 1cm concrete on a contaminated concrete slab,” said Clément Charpentier, marketing manager at Blastrac. “In case the contamination was deeper, it is possible to remove more than 1cm in one or several passes,” he added.

Blastrac delivered its BMC-335ELITE machines to the Tricastin site in January 2020. They are the only remote-controlled sawing machines of their type on the market.

The heavy-duty electric shavers are equipped with a 15KW sawing motor and an electrical drive system, which means the operators does not need to have permanent contact with the handle. An integrated control panel on the handle can be used to adjust the speed and tracking to enable the machine to turn 360 degrees. A digital ammeter on the handle turns red when the maximum current is reached, which means that the working depth has to be adjusted. An additional control unit is available for operation of the system remotely.

Benefits of the remotely-operated version include improved worker environment (as operators do not come into contact with dust or vibrations from using the machine), as well as increased productivity. Blastrac estimates a minimum of 30% increase in productivity compared to a non-remote controlled version. The operator can walk around the machine to check the surface, dust collector and hoses. Operations are also more precise, Blastrac says.  

Applications for the BMC-335ELITE in the nuclear industry include removal of contaminated concrete (depths 2mm-20mm) and decontamination of cracks.

The drum housing, which is surrounded by dust seals, is mounted in the frame by torque bushes that lower the vibration level. The low vibration level (< 2.5m/s2) meets requirements for use in the nuclear industry and enables operators to work continuously for up to eight hours with the machine. Depending on the configuration of the sawing drum such as the numbers of blades and spacers, the shaver can produce grooved patterns for anti-slip surfaces.