Life expectancy growing for Canadian units

06 November 2008

A complex maintenance programme has boosted Bruce Power's plans to increase the operating life of Bruce A unit 3, the company has announced, while recently completed boiler work has extended the life of unit 4.


Bruce A 
The Bruce A plant (Image: Bruce Power)
Bruce 3 had been facing the end of its operating life in 2009. However, a complex programme to realign fuel channels in the Candu unit, currently undergoing a maintenance outage, has enabled the unit's life to be extended to 2010. Exposure to high temperatures, radiation and pressure over the unit's operating life had caused the tubes to elongate. To remedy this, each channel must be cut free from the reactor then pulled back and welded into place. The operation has been so successful it is being extended to target all 98 channels instead of the 60 originally planned, Bruce Power said.


Separately, the company says, a recently completed boiler inspection program will allow Bruce 4 to continue operating to 2015.


The four 750 MWe Candu units at Bruce A are undergoing a major refurbishment programme. Units 1 and 2, both off line since the mid-1990s, are now having their fuel channels and 16 steam generators replaced and ancillary systems upgraded to current standards, which should allow them to operate for a further 25 years. According to Bruce Power, it expects both units to be back in commercial service in the first half of 2010.


After the work is completed on units 1 and 2, similar work is planned on the other units to extend their lives by a similar margin. The total cost of the refurbishment work on units 1 and 2 alone is estimated at $3.1-3.4 billion. The company also has plans to build up to four more reactors at the Ontario site, and is looking into the possibility of building a two-unit plant at Nanticoke in southern Ontario.