Crane technology for nuclear construction projects

20 November 2018

Belgian company Sarens has unveiled the world's largest crane - the SGC-250 - which will be used to perform all the major lifts at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK. Meanwhile, NuScale Power has selected PaR Systems LLC to design and manufacture the crane that will be a key component of the building for its small modular reactor (SMR) power plant.

Sarens celebrates the launch of the SGC-250, the world's largest crane (Image: Sarens)

NuScale chose Minnesota-based PaR Systems to begin engineering work for the reactor building crane (RBC) after an intensive selection process involving several major US crane suppliers, the company said yesterday. The RBC is a key component of the reactor building that houses NuScale Power Modules.

PaR Systems will carry out design, engineering and subsequent precision movement testing for NuScale's RBC. NuScale is preparing for its first plant to be operational in Idaho by the mid-2020s.

PaR Systems will start work in 2018 and is expected to continue the first phase of design work through 2019. NuScale intends to contract for the remaining design phases, initial design and design for manufacturing in 2019 and fabrication at a later date, the company said.

"When making this important decision, NuScale knew it was necessary to find both an experienced nuclear crane supplier and a true industry leader in remote handling of critical equipment," NuScale Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nuclear Officer Dale Atkinson said.

World's largest crane destined for Hinkley

A special event on 9 November at the Port of Ghent in Belgium marked the official launch by Sarens of the SGC-250, the largest crane in the world in terms of size and capacity. The crane has a maximum load moment of 250,000 tonnes allowing it to lift 5000 tonnes, and is the strongest crane of its kind, the company said. With the features and flexibility of a fully-mobile ring crane it can slew 360 degrees but exerts low ground pressure of fewer than 25 tonnes per square metre.

The crane's main boom can be extended from 118 to 160 metres and the jib can be extended up to 100 metres, providing height of up to 250 metres or a radius of 275 metres. "This flexibility guarantees that whatever combination clients need, we can build it: all on a double-ring design with an outer diameter of no more than 48.5 metres," the company said.

The crane will be shipped to the Hinkley Point C construction site in Somerset next year. It will spend about four years at the site, where EDF plans to build two EPR units, and will perform all heavy lifts in the construction project. As well as a set of wheels for slewing, the crane has a second set of hydraulically retractable wheels which enable it to travel It will utilise its on-site relocation system at Hinkley Point as it will need to lift from three different positions, Sarens said.

The SGC-250 was inspired by the "increasing trend" towards modularisation, Sarens said.

"[O]ur clients now prefer to pre-assemble large portions, or modules, in a controlled environment and then transport and lift them into their final position. Because of their weight, these modules require higher lifting capacities."

Use of the SGC-250 is not limited to the nuclear sector, although Sarens sees a role for the "enormous" crane in other nuclear projects.

"Hinkley Point C is only the first of many new nuclear power plants that will be built in the UK and abroad in the coming years, and we expect the SGC-250 to be vital to those projects," the company said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News