HEB Stainless Steel Beams for the Jules Horowitz Reactor

PUBLISHED 4 July 2017

As a material test reactor, the Jules Horowitz Reactor (JHR) in France plays an important role in developing nuclear energy technology. Montanstahl participated in that with supplying HEB stainless steel beams.


Jules Horowitz Reactor is primarily made of HEB stainless steel beams

picture from Nuclear Engineering International

The JHR is actually undergoing construction at the moment. Cooled and moderated by water, it is expected to be ready in action by 2021. Besides, the reactor is supposed to be testing the structures, shields and cooling systems of a neutron reactor. The JHR was intended to be a replacement for the EU’s existing material testing reactors. Originally built in the 1960’s, they will end their service in 2020. The construction site of the new reactor is in the South of France, in Cadarache. This is the largest European site for nuclear research. Next to the JHR the world’s biggest magnetic fusion device – ITER – is in construction.

Irradiation Experiments

With a power output of approximately one hundred megawatts, the reactor will support nuclear testing, research and radioisotope production. Furthermore, it has to meet exceptionally safety standards. As a hub for scientific research, the JHR will offer the opportunity for experimental irradiation. Scientists can also analyze the behaviour of fuel and material under irradiation. JHR will have to double the capacity of the original MTR Osiris. It is able to perform twenty experiments at the same time. So JHR will have the capacity to operate for 260 power days. It is also designed to incorporate improved online monitoring and a fission product lab. This is furthermore coupled with the fuel sample under irradiation. However, around twenty contractors are working on constructing JHR. Major milestones in the project include the installation of the dome in 2013. On the other hand, constructors removed the formwork of the dome in 2015.

Training Future Scientists

So the new reactor will support advanced modelling and simulation. This is furthermore enabling the reproduction of the environmental conditions. These include temperature, pressure and coolant systems as well as flux and coolant chemistry. A training system for future scientists and operational staff is vital. The JHR is built by a consortium under the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA). The consortium will be liable for the reactor and own it. All members of the consortium have voting rights and guaranteed access to the reactor. In 2014, the European Union had a special status membership. Besides, there were eleven other related members.

Auxiliary Infrastructure NAB

The whole complex contains a reactor building with a diameter of 37 meters. Contractors used reinforced concrete to build it. Furthermore, they constructed an auxiliary building. It contains three storage pools for spent equipment and fuel. A channel connects the auxiliary building NAB to the reactor. So it will be possible to transfer spent fuel and experimental equipment easily.

architects plan to use HEB stainless steel beams for the reactor

picture from www-jhr.cea.fr

The auxiliary building will also house four hot cells. They enable the preparation of experiments and examination of non-destructed irradiated samples. Other auxiliary infrastructure includes diesel generators for emergencies and a cold workshop, which will assemble and test experimental devices.

HEB Stainless Steel Beams for the Reactor Core

Montanstahl is delighted to have supplied over eight tons of exceptionally high-quality HEB stainless steel beams. They are in grade 304L (1.4307) and twelve meters long. It is due to the stringent requirement for the nuclear industry, that we produce our stainless steel beams under the watchful eye of a third-party witness from AREVA. Montanstahl is proud to say that its high-quality HEB stainless steel beams support the most critical element of the reactor, the main reactor core.

HEB stainless steel beams are perfect to use in the nuclear industry

Supply of Stainless Steel in Exceptional Quality

Montanstahl has made several feasibility studies with prototype production for the special profiles. These HEB stainless steel beams will form the frames of the sliding doors between the reactor and fuel rod and experimental equipment preparation areas. Laser weld quality must maintain such stringent quality requirements on the laser weld. Each laser welded profile will have to undergo a hundred percent metallurgical analysis and x-ray inspection. This will ensure that the welding has been carried out to the stringent quality requirements of the nuclear industry and that there are no defects in the weld.
Stainless steel used in the JHR project must be of exceptional quality to withstand the pressures associated with stress corrosion, assisted by irradiation. Experiments at the site will also study this phenomenon and the creep swelling of structural materials to determine optimum maintenance, quality and potential degradation of future nuclear reactors.

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