Nuclear plans forge ahead

16 June 2009

Two new heavy forging milestones have been reached with Russia's new "super-powered" forge as large as any in the world and the first large pressure vessel completely made in China.


Developments such as these are coming increasingly rapidly as the global supply chain prepares to meet a surge in orders for new nuclear power systems.


A ceremony yesterday marked the shipping of the reactor pressure vessel for the Ling Ao Phase II unit 2. The reactor is a domestically engineered 1080 MWe unit and the production of a pressure vessel of this size in China is a first. The component, measuring over 13 metres long and weighing over 320 tonnes, was made at Dongfang (Guangzhou) Heavy Machinery's Nansha facility in Guangdong province. Unit 1 and unit 2 at Ling Ao Phase II are to enter commercial operation towards the ends of 2010 and 2011.


Ling Ao Phase II unit 3 reactor pressure vessel (CGNPC)
The Chinese-produced reactor pressure vessel (Image: Dongfang)


China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), which owns Ling Ao, said the achievement of Dongfang in making the component was a 'major breakthrough to accelerate the progress of self-reliance of nuclear power... to improve the level of the industrial chain.'


Each time CGNPC has built a new reactor it has been able to increase the amount of domestically made components. The first two at Ling Ao, based on an imported French design built nearby at Daya Bay, featured around 30% Chinese components. The figure rose to 60% at Ling Ao Phase II, to 75% at Hongyanhe, to 80% at Ningde and to 83% at Yangjiang.


"Super-powered" complex


Meanwhile, Russia's efforts to increase its own nuclear supply chain bore fruit with the completion of a "super-powered next generation steel melting complex" at OMZ's Izhorskiye Zavody facility. The development is a major step towards the forging of single components from ingots of up to 600 tonnes in weight - equivalent to the largest facilities anywhere in the world.


Japan Steel Works is seen as the leader in this area of super-heavy forgings, but has now been joined by OMZ while two Chinese and one British firm could soon join the super-heavyweight club. Shanghai Electric Company and Dongfang are planning forges that will accept 600 tonne ingots, while Sheffield Forgemasters is hoping for government help to build one to accept 500 tonne ingots.


The improvements at OMZ are part of a Russian strategic plan to gear up for work in the nuclear, oil, gas and general energy sectors. The improvements were financed by GazPromBank. OMZ said the new capabilities "will put an end to foreign producers' monopoly in the production of rotors for low speed turbines and generators." Large half-speed turbines are planned for new Russian nuclear power units under a 2007 deal with AtomEnergoMash and France's Alstom, which have a joint venture to build the non-nuclear half of the power plants.


Farid Kantserov, chair of OMZ, said: "This is a momentous event for the entire Russian machine building industry as it confirms our willingness to take an active part in the development of the domestic nuclear energy sector and to compete successfully with leading Western companies in the foreign market."