On March 16, 2015, AREVA delivered to its customer ELECTRABEL (a subsidiary of GDF-SUEZ) a new reactor vessel head for unit 3 of the Tihange nuclear power plant in Belgium. Weighing over 60 metric tons, this stainless steel component will be installed during reactor outage maintenance operations.
Several areas of AREVA's expertise and a number of industrial facilities were involved in the manufacturing and assembly of this component. Machined at Le Creusot, then assembled and welded at Chalon Saint-Marcel, this component left the factory on Monday, January 26th and was transported 800 km by road to the Tihange power plant. The control rod drive mechanisms, which were manufactured at the AREVA Jeumont plant, were welded onto the vessel head once on site.
At a later stage, the AREVA services teams from Chalon will mount the assembled head onto the reactor vessel body after it has been loaded into the reactor building. The verification and inspection operations will take place following this installation phase.
The reactor vessel head serves as a protective barrier to the fuel located in the pressure vessel. It features openings for the control rod drive mechanisms to pass in order to control and regulate the nuclear reaction as part of electricity generation.
Patrick Poret, director of AREVA's heavy equipment production line, said: “The delivery of the reactor vessel head to the Tihange nuclear power plant is an important milestone for this project and marks the culmination of over three years of work by the teams to meet the requirements of our customer ELECTRABEL.”