Canada's Darlington nuclear power plantCanada’s SNC-Lavalin announced it had been awarded a contract for detailed design, fabrication/manufacturing and first commercial deployment of the newly developed Pressure Tube Circumferential Sampling Equipment (PRECISE) tool at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG’s) Darlington Nuclear Generating Station starting early 2021.

SNC-Lavalin said the contract is in line with its “new strategy moving forward towards engineering services and greater growth”. PRECISE is a next generation reactor inspection tool designed by SNC-Lavalin for taking samples of reactor core internals, allowing for in-situ life assessment of the pressure boundary material of fuel channel assemblies.

“We value innovation, and PRECISE will establish its worth as an important tool that supports Darlington’s continued safe operations,” said Sandy Taylor, president, nuclear, SNC-Lavalin.

Fuel channels are subject to in-service ageing mechanisms and require regular proactive inspections to monitor their condition and demonstrate fitness-for-service for the operating life of the reactor. This is done through “scraping” in which the fuel channels are defuelled and several samples of the inner diameter of the pressure tube are taken and inspected periodically.

The PRECISE tool can take multiple samples at once, reducing worker dose and on-reactor cycle times. Remote and automated operations allow PRECISE to operate in both wet (with pressure boundary intact) and damp (channel drained and isolated) environments. The design responds quickly and reliably to changing pressure tube surface conditions in fuel channels and allows for 75% less time on channel compared with older tooling designs.