Feature: Checking on nuclear plants
A look into nuclear check valve technology and markets
A nuclear check valve is a one-way valve that allows a fluid, either liquid or gas, to flow in a single direction with minimum resistance. The valve consists of a body, bonnet, and disc, with the body comprising two ports, one for the fluid to enter and the other for it to exit. They are used in various nuclear power plant applications, such as cooling water circuits, preheaters, vaporisers, and turbines.
Check valves are employed in the nuclear industry to control feed water systems, as well as in dump lines, miscellaneous process systems, and monitoring and sampling systems. They also help avoid reverse flow with minimal leakage and they prevent excessive heat transfer between two fluids and play a pivotal role in providing safety against explosion and meltdowns in the nuclear power industry. Installing them not only aids the protection of sensitive components such as pumps, but also inhibits the inadvertent draining of tanks.
Straight-way swing and angle are the two primary types of check valves used in nuclear power plants. The former is likely to dominate the market during next seven years primarily due to its simple design, low pressure drop, low cost, reliable sealing, and availability in a wide range of sizes. Swing check valves, on the other hand, offer better leak tightness compared to angle check valves, and they have advantages such as a good closing and throttling feature. These valves are employed widely in high-pressure service applications.
Check valve failures can result in increased costs, significant operating transients, and reduced system availability. The nuclear check valves market is primarily driven by stringent regulations on the spillage of dangerous chemicals and the maintenance of safety features of the plant and equipment. The growing capacities of nuclear power and the upgrading and renovation of existing plants are other features propelling the market.
An increasing need to isolate pumps and equipment and to control feed flow is also projected to boost the requirement for nuclear check valves. The escalating incidence of non-safety systems, such as check valves, facing failure has been a concern for the nuclear power industry. Therefore, introducing improvements in the operational efficiency of nuclear check valves provides new opportunities for manufacturers to develop smarter valves that can be controlled by solenoid, digital, hydraulic, electric, or pneumatic energy.
The global market for nuclear check valves is distributed over North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. Out of the five, Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America are predicted to be the dominant regions until 2024, principally due to the rapid industrialisation in the developing economies of India and China. The overall rise in demand for energy as well as in foreign investments in developing countries is also motivating the nuclear valve market. The US and Russia offer significant potential due to technological innovations in the field of check valves taking place in these regions.
Therefore, a surge in upgrading activities due to substantial investments in nuclear power plants is anticipated to add to the demand for nuclear check valves. Key players operating in the market include Crane Nuclear, Velan, BNL Industries, Daher, ValvTechnologies, Valcor Engineering Corp., MSA, and Pentair.
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