Mechanical and 1st Chemical Cleaning of NEK Steam Generators


  • Robert Kelavić Nuklearna elektrarna Krško
  • Marko Turalija Nuklearna elektrarna Krško



Steam Generators, Sludge Lancing, Inner Bundle Lancing, Chemical Cleaning, televisual inspection, Foreign Object Search and Retrieval, Krško Nuclear Power Plant


Sludge removal is performed on two steam generators (SG’s) at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) during every outage. SG’s are a meeting point of five major plant systems: Reactor Coolant System (RC) on the primary side and four systems on the secondary side – Auxiliary Feedwater System (AF), Blowdown System (BD), Main Feedwater System (FW), and Main Steam System (MS). Sludge removal activities take place on the secondary side of the SG’s on the top of the tube sheet. It always consists of classical Sludge Lancing (SL) which is done by spraying water at different angles (30°, 90°, 150°) between the tube gaps in the steam generator tube bundle with a pressure of around 220 bars. Another method is Inner Bundle Lancing (IBL) which means spraying water directly inside the tube bundle with a traveling lance tape with a spraying nozzle at the end. Water is sprayed at an angle or directly on the top of the tube sheet with a robot-guided manipulator which is placed inside a steam generator. The manipulator and therefore the spraying action is controlled by an operator and at times it is fully autonomous to provide the highest protection measures possible. Another method of sludge removal which was for the first time utilized in 2019 at the Krško site was Chemical Cleaning (CC) of both SG’s. During this process, a chemical was injected into the SG’s through the BD system and periodically pumped between the two SG’s to create a dynamic flow and maximize the cleaning effect. To achieve the best results, a constant temperature of the chemicals had to be maintained at all times. Upon completion of chemical cleaning, a rinsing phase was followed to remove any post-treatment chemicals. After all sludge removal activities, a televisual inspection (TVI) of the top of the tube sheet was performed to access the hard sludge area and to search for potential foreign objects in the SG’s. If for instance an object of importance during TV inspection is found, an attempt to retrieve it would usually take place. Other methods of sludge removal such as upper bundle flushing or ultrasonic cleaning have not been implemented in NEK thus far.

Since the power plant uprate in May 2000, NEK conducted SL on both SG’s every outage also starting with IBL in 2013 and 2015, and the same method was used in the 2018 outage. During the outage in 2019, all three methods (SL, IBL, and CC) have been utilized with the main purpose to extend the full load operation of the plant, preventing and/or stopping denting processes in the SG’s from occurring, reducing and stopping the build-up of hard sludge area to increase/sustain efficiency and remove foreign objects found in the SG’s. SG’s U-tubes are a barrier between the primary side coolant and the secondary side of NEK and the environment. Therefore, it is crucial to keep the highest level of integrity of the U-tubes because any leak could potentially mean a release of radioactive material into the atmosphere. This paper describes the purpose and workflow of sludge removal activities in the outage of 2019 in NEK.


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