France’s Framatome (formerly Areva NP) said on 19 April that it had received two patent awards over the last year for innovations that solve unique challenges in the nuclear industry. The patents address inventions to improve the inspection and operation of components in nuclear energy facilities.

The first innovation is the angle beam ultrasonic probe, that more efficiently inspects the integrity of fasteners on reactor vessel heads. This patent allows the strength of the bolts to be evaluated by sending ultrasonic beams that scan the piece and detect flaws. This method better examines the fasteners in their environments and saves time and money by eliminating unnecessary replacements. Mike Hacker, technical consultant, and Mike Key, principal engineer, both part of Framatome’s Installed Base Business Unit in the United States, developed the project over a four-year period.

The second innovation advances the operation of light water reactors. This method models the changing layers of mineral deposits found on the coolant piping and circuits that carry water in nuclear reactors. These deposits can reduce efficient heat transfer and increase corrosion. This technology allows operators to better understand mineral deposits, helping them develop mitigative or corrective actions. Joseph Wyatt, advisory engineer of Framatome’s Installed Base Business Unit in the USA, as well as John Griffith, retired advisory engineer, and Dr Mike Pop, retired materials and chemistry expert, developed this method. To date, Framatome in the USA has been awarded more than 265 patents, which are credited to more than 400 inventors.