Sandvik celebrates new mill

11 May 2012

The world's largest dedicated mill for the manufacture of stainless steel and high nickel alloy steam generator tubes for nuclear power plants has opened at Sandviken in Sweden.

Sandvik mill opening (Sandvik)_380
Sandvik CEO Olof Faxander and Sandvik Materials Technology president Jonas Gustavsson officially open the mill (Image: Sandvik)

Sandvik's new facility represents the culmination of over two and a half year's work and according to the company will strengthen its position as the leading global supplier of seamless nuclear steam generator tubing.

The state-of-the-art mill boasts all stages of the tube process from manufacture through annealing, final finishing and inspection to despatch, within one dedicated facility. The 340m-long mill is equivalent in size to two soccer pitches, and incorporates a fully automated flowline with short set-up and lead times. The automated production process is managed by a fully integrated computer control system. The mill also boasts up-to-the-minute energy efficiency and recycling measures, such as reusing heat from the manufacturing process and energy efficient lighting throughout the plant.

Sandvik sees the energy sector as a key segment for the company, and the flexibility and manufacturing capability provided by the new plant will enable it to meet the nuclear industry's growing requirements. At the official inauguration of the new plant, Sandvik Materials Technology president Jonas Gustavsson noted that the company foresees "a lot of interesting opportunities for nuclear and steam generator tubing." The company is due to begin steam generator tube deliveries to Areva in 2013 under a SEK2 billion ($257 million) multi-year contract signed in 2009.

Steam generators are used in pressurized water reactor (PWR) plants to transfer heat from the reactor coolant into water in a secondary circuit to produce the steam used to power the electricity-generating turbines. A typical PWR has up to four steam generators, each of which has an interior circuit consisting of many kilometres of tubing. With many reactors worldwide moving towards operating lives of up 60 years, many plants undertake the major task of steam generator replacements after about 30 years. The decision to replace steam generators is essentially an economic one.

Sandvik is one of only three companies worldwide that manufacture steel steam generator tubes for PWRs. The other companies, Vallourec of France and Sumitomo of Japan, have also been working to increase their capacity over recent years.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News