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Redesigned toolset helps the Darlington Refurbishment stay on track

 Redesigned toolset helps the Darlington Refurbishment stay on track

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2/9/2018      

 

An important step in the reactor disassembly phase on OPG’s Darlington Refurbishment project is the removal of annulus spacers from six fuel channels in Unit 2.

When the time came to plan for execution of the task, Laveer Engineering had the expertise in retrieval tool design and development that fellow project partner Promation was looking for.

“Promation had the lead on the project, but felt that we could provide the design and development required to make the project a success,” said Peter Gowthorpe, Director of Laveer Engineering, a custom tooling and engineering company based in Burlington, Ont. “They knew we had the experience they could draw from to get the job done in the time frame available.”

Peter Gowthorpe, Director of Laveer Engineering, receives a plaque from Ted Gruetzner, VP Stakeholder Relations with OPG.
Peter Gowthorpe, Director of Laveer Engineering, third from right, receives a plaque from Ted Gruetzner, VP Stakeholder Relations with OPG.

​Annulus spacers (or garter springs) play a critical role in maintaining a gap between the pressure tube and calandria tube inside a unit’s fuel channel, preventing contact between the two components. Removal of these springs is intricate work, which involves collecting the spacers by using an annulus spacer retrieval tool (ASRT).

“Based on previous industry experience in annulus spacer retrieval, the team determined that improvements to the ASRT were required to set up Refurbishment for success,” said Gowthorpe. “We recommended improvements to the tool to reduce any risks.”

By utilizing the modified tool, the Darlington Refurbishment team was able to safely remove 24 spacers from six fuel channels inside Darlington Nuclear’s Unit 2 reactor, ahead of schedule.

“Fuel channels are different between reactors and vary even within the same reactor due to operating conditions,” said Gowthorpe. “We performed significant testing to ensure the tool would function in a predictable manner. It was no small undertaking.”

Founded by Gowthorpe in 2013, Laveer has since been supporting the Ontario nuclear industry, helping nuclear operators like OPG with reactor maintenance work.

“Laveer started off as a one-person company in 2013 and has grown to a staff of 10. By the summer, we’ll be 12,” he said. “We’ve outgrown our space and are currently looking into leasing or purchasing a larger facility in Burlington. Darlington Refurbishment has been a key part of our growth.

“Working with companies such as Promation has been critical to our growth,” Gowthorpe added. “We’re taking lessons learned and applying them to both projects and relationships, just as we’ve done on Refurbishment.”

To learn more about annulus spacers and the ASRT, read this fact sheet.