November 10, 2017

AREVA NP introduces FORERUNNER, a new robot for optimized steam generator inspections

CHARLOTTE, N.C., November 10, 2017 – AREVA NP today announced the latest addition to the company’s next generation of inspection robots – FORERUNNER for steam generators, which is developed and manufactured by INETEC-Institute for Nuclear Technology. Its size and design will minimize installation and inspection times by providing improved access to the steam generator tubes for inspection and repair as required.

AREVA NP plans to deploy the device as part of the suite of tools and software it uses to inspect and repair steam generators. This deployment will start in spring 2018 in the United States. Steam generators transfer heat from pressurized water reactors to create steam, a key step in the process of producing electricity in a nuclear energy facility.

“At AREVA NP, we work tirelessly to develop and provide innovative, cost-effective solutions to help our customers achieve their safety and commercial objectives,” said Craig Ranson, senior vice president of AREVA NP’s Installed Base Business Unit in the United States. “FORERUNNER’s state-of-the-art technology will enable efficient and effective inspections while satisfying all regulatory requirements.”

FORERUNNER is a light, mobile robot. Its spider-like movements in all working positions, on horizontal or vertical tubesheets, easily adapt to different steam generator geometries.

Installed and removed with a motorized carriage, the robot engages with the tube and walks out using pneumatically actuated grippers with fail-safe logic. The entire process is managed remotely, via a single controller and cable, resulting in no human interface and a 30 percent reduction in dose. FORERUNNER can reach more than 200 tubes in a given stance.

Other performance improvements with FORERUNNER include its ability to calculate the optimal path using an intelligent path algorithm. This can decrease inspection time by 30 to 50 percent. The technology can also place multiple robots in a single channel head, accommodating repair tools and increasing inspection productivity.