Delivering hydrogen coolers for the nuclear industry
“Nuclear power has historically been one of the largest contributors of carbon-free electricity globally, and it has significant potential to contribute to power sector decarbonisation”, according to the International Energy Agency. This is one reason why Sterling Thermal Technology is proud to support the nuclear sector; we believe it is crucial to ensuring a consistent and safe electricity supply.
Our client request: like for like hydrogen coolers
Last year, a recognised international OEM customer awarded Sterling Thermal Technology a contract to supply four hydrogen coolers for a nuclear plant in Canada. Our customer required these coolers to be built “like for like”, as the original units were more than ten years ago. The order’s delivery was not without its challenges, but we took this as positive reasons to reinforce the collaboration between our companies to find solutions.
Sterling Thermal Technology’s solution
First, we needed to bring up the corrosion protection (paint specifications were out of date), and the paint brand no longer existed. So, thanks to our in-house expertise and experience, Sterling Thermal Technology was able to investigate suitable replacement brands for our customer to approve.
Overcoming the challenges associated with the length of the coolers
“These hydrogen coolers are 8 meters long, the weight and resultant fragility due to flexing was the next challenge”, said Chris Webb, Project Manager with responsibility for this project. There was a risk of either damaging the cooler or injuring personnel during the assembly of the coolers. To overcome this, Sterling Thermal Technology assembled the coolers at a specific angle, sufficient to prevent forces due to gravity displacing the Elfin finned blocks.
During manufacture, the length of the units also provided instances where material torsion and twisting could occur; this was alleviated by the mechanical assembly teams who were able to draw on their extensive experience whilst building these hydrogen coolers. The focus was to keep the components square and true during the assembly process, with optimum lifting points and sub-assembly machining to assist our mechanical engineering team with the technical challenges they faced during the manufacturing process with the most effective and efficient solutions.
Giving our client the flexibility to arrange the collection of these coolers at a later date
Finally, to ensure we delivered the coolers in accordance with the customers program, we implemented rotating shift patterns. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affected the ultimate overseas client, which led to the postponement of the scheduled outage at the power station. To support our customer, we identified a suitable partner who could safely store the coolers, giving our client the flexibility to arrange the collection of these coolers at a later date when the outage could be re-scheduled.
At the end of the project, our client commented that “Working with Sterling Thermal Technology demonstrated their ability and agility in dealing with numerous challenges. They also proved that they have the expertise and experience to work in conformity with rigorous civil nuclear standards.”