Weir Floway Innovates for Nuclear Market
Weir Floway in Fresno, California has sold nearly 300 pumps to the Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington State over the last 30 years. Proven reliability and a strong working relationship have again brought Weir Floway a unique opportunity.
This year the company is capitalizing on the abilities of its innovative design team to create a high level nuclear waste-handling pump that meets the exacting standards demanded by the secure facility.
The radioactive nature of the waste makes the cost of disposing of a non-functioning pump millions of dollars more than the cost of the pump itself. It is critical that the pump design be both reliable and efficient. Through close cooperation with project managers, Weir Floway has created a pumping unit that will meet the rigorous standards of a nuclear waste facility. The design contains no mechanical seals, instead using hydro seals to reduce the chance of contamination and improve reliability and pump lifespan. The pump has a new custom designed suction intake that allows the unit to be flushed at an above normal flow rate. CFDesign software was used extensively to optimize the intake design. FEA was used to analyze the effects of stress and vibration upon the system.
The pump will be used to pump nuclear waste, currently stored in tanks, to a vitirification site, where the radioactive and chemical wastes will be melted and trapped in a glass substance. Weir Floway's pump design is especially innovative because it fits into the existing concrete structure, and can be set up in the location without any modification to the pump or site. The system design is simple, and start up requires very little monitoring.
Design specifications and tolerances for the construction of the pump are especially tight. The pump will be installed using robotic technology in order to prevent human exposure to the contents of the tank. High level nuclear waste has very high exposure toxicity, it would take only 45 minutes of exposure to kill. The pump will be hooked up to automated pumping equipment that will control the pumping process and monitor the flow of the liquid. This installation will be the first of 62 possible installations on the Hanford Site.
Source: The Weir Group PLC