Fueling the Future with Precision Nuclear Power Components

Harnessing the atom has been one of the backstories of World War II. Since then, the world has directed nuclear power towards peaceful uses for electric power generation and peacekeeping by propelling this country’s naval vessels. In both cases, the job of nuclear reactors in the power plants and onboard the ships is to create high-pressure steam to turn the propellers and generate electricity. 

For over 75 years –– Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) has specialized in both sand casting and investment casting pump and valve parts. 

     Sand Cast Nuclear Impeller (Left) Investment Cast Nuclear Bonnet (Right)

 

Precision is crucial for the parts that comprise nuclear systems and equipment. A leak from ill-fitting parts in a valve or pump could spell disaster. In the past five years, SF&E has worked to achieve a higher level of nuclear requirements as the nuclear power industry continues to grow, especially in decarbonizing electric power generation. 

 

Live look at our investment casting process.

 

Below is a series of photos presenting insight into the precision and attention to detail the SF&E team applies to safely keeping nuclear plants. 

 

QA for Nuclear Castings 

Without question, the casting process for nuclear is exceptionally exacting due to the safety issues handling nuclear materials. Regardless of the application, customers can rely on SF&E to meticulously complete the full range of testing and inspection throughout the entire process.

For nuclear, we take it to the next level regarding non-destructive testing (NDT), comprehensive procedures, personnel qualifications, and certifications. Along with SF&E’s casting expertise, we pay strict attention to ensuring these components contribute to the safe operation of land-based and maritime nuclear applications. 

“We have produced safety-related parts that comply with the requirements of Title 10 CFR Part 21. This is a material alert system SF&E has in force for all safety-related and nuclear jobs we manufacture,” said Mike Porfilio, Director of Quality for SF&E. 

 

Certified Level III NDT Inspector performing dimensional inspection.

 

In the early 1990s, SF&E expanded into Class 1 casting production following relevant sections of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and general requirements of ISO-9001. Class 1 castings require different NDT, such as radiography, and have different welding classifications of defects. 

Our trained personnel play a significant role in our ability to deliver high quality parts for the nuclear power industry. We regularly train more than half of 10+ staff members to be certified for visual inspection to ensure compliance with exacting specifications. 

 

Our Casting Process for Nuclear   

Though SF&E is well known among its customers for its skill and expertise in delivering precision castings, the safety aspects demanded by nuclear applications require additional care and attention to detail during production.  

Pre-production planning ensures the correct casting procedures for nuclear throughout project completion. For welding, compliance includes all aspects of ASME Boiler and Pressure Corporation (BPVC) and the NAVSEA S9074-GIB-101/248 Welding program for the US Navy. The focus for heat treating is on the many different ASTM and ASME material specifications, particularly Section III, Division 1, regarding Boiler and Pressure Vessel Corporation BPVC.  

Butterfly Valve (Left), Wedge (Middle), Valve Body (Right)

 

 

SF&E has progressed in handling nuclear system components, ranging from pump parts – including a 7,000-pound pour weight 12-stage split case pump – to a 5,500-pound CA6NM Class 1 martensitic stainless steel impeller.  

     5,500-pound Impeller (Left) and 7,000-pound 12-stage Split Case Pump (Right)

 

Many variables lead to a successful pour. Though the team has done countless pours, they augment their expertise using the MAGMASOFT® to simulate a pour, enabling the team to analyze metal flow, improve initial casting quality, and minimize defects.

Cobalt can be an essential alloy for nuclear, tending to absorb radiation. When we pour for nuclear parts and control carbon and ferrite percentages, cobalt can go into the mix. Our technicians also pour test blocks for measuring mechanical properties and for process and compliance control. Not only do we pour these to conform to the purchase order, but also to help us further analyze and continuously improve.

We have 11 different Electric Induction Furnaces at SF&E.

 

High tolerances are a feature of nuclear castings, with the final step involving cutting away excess metal, smoothing out edges, buffing off the surface, and finalizing the part.  

Machined Nuclear Impellers

 

Handling nuclear materials comes with many safety precautions and exacting specifications. We follow comprehensive quality procedures and work instructions to satisfy these crucial criteria. While SF&E pays close attention to processes, our team’s special personnel qualifications and certifications make the difference.

For in-depth nuclear experience casting expertise and high standards, you can rely on SF&E for your nuclear project. Contact us today at sales@stainlessfoundry.com.

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