The Additive Manufacture (AM) of nuclear plant components, such as small-bore globe valves, offers opportunities to reduce costs and improve production lead-times. Cost reductions can be achieved by reducing raw material quantities, removing machining operations, and eliminating the welding of sub-assemblies. Furthermore, there is the opportunity to reduce production lead-times by simplifying the supply chain, e.g. reducing the number of parts to be sourced and eliminating special operations. Such opportunities are important against a backdrop of industry striving to reduce the cost of nuclear power generation in order to ensure viability with other forms of power generation.
However, AM is a relatively new and innovative manufacturing technology, and although now seeing greater use in industry, there are still very few examples of where the technology has been applied to components used in safety critical applications. Furthermore, it is not covered by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Section III, nuclear design code. For nuclear plant applications, it is imperative a robust safety justification is provided.
This paper presents Rolls-Royce’s approach to provision of a high integrity safety justification to enable the implementation of AM small-bore globe valves, up to a nominal bore size of 2” to nuclear plant. The material of construction is AM Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) 316LN stainless steel, with a Hot Isostatic Press (HIP) bonded LPBF Tristelle 5183 low cobalt hard facing seat.
The paper describes the structure of the safety justification, which follows a multi-legged approach. It provides an overview of the innovative manufacturing process, which is, to the best of Rolls-Royce’s knowledge, the first of a kind application on nuclear pressure boundary components.
The paper provides a summary of the suite of materials testing and metallurgical examinations conducted, and majors on prototype functional and performance testing where comparisons are made with the previous forged form. Pressure testing is covered which includes ultimate pressure testing to 2,000 bar, as well as: functional cyclic testing, hard facing bond strength tests, dynamic loading (shock), and cyclic thermal tests. In all cases the additive manufactured small-bore globe valves performed as well, and in some cases better than the forged material equivalent.