Coal, Nuclear

Peach Bottom uses video helmet to improve maintenance program

Issue 3 and Volume 99.

Peach Bottom uses video helmet to improve maintenance program

PECO Energy Co.?s Peach Bottom atomic power station is using advanced fiber optic and video display technology to enhance its predictive maintenance program. The technology, first used at PECO?s nuclear power station in York County, Pa., to cross-train technicians in infrared thermography, has recently been used with a fiber optic borescope to inspect the inside of various systems and components.

The equipment includes a modified version of a helmet mounted display (HMD), a variation of the type of helmet displays sometimes worn by doctors performing intricate microsurgery. The display looks like the sleek visors worn to play Ovirtual realityO video games.

The idea of adapting medical technology for use in the nuclear industry came from Rich Wurzbach of Peach Bottom?s predictive maintenance group. He said the idea occurred to him while attending an optical engineering conference last year.

Wurzbach contacted Optics 1 of California, manufacturer of an HMD featured at the conference, and asked for a helmet modified for Peach Bottom?s needs. The helmet was delivered in August, and was immediately used to cross-train members of his group in thermography.

The HMD has enhanced training, improved inspection in hard-to-reach areas, helped in identifying and eliminating foreign material inside piping, and reduced personnel exposure and radwaste generation, he said.

The thermography camera?s auxiliary video output is wired to the HMD to allow a technician to perform an inspection while a trainee wears the helmet. The trainee sees the same image inside the helmet as the thermographer sees on the camera display. The trainee can also look out below the visor to see how the instructor manipulates the camera during the inspection.

The HMD was initially used for training, but other uses were quickly devised for this versatile piece of equipment. For example, the technician needed a tool to inspect hard-to-reach areas, so they combined the HMD with a fiber optic borescope to accomplish the task.

After a small hole was drilled into a core spray valve to install a bypass line during a recent refueling outage, the fiberscope was inserted to look for any drill shavings that needed to be vacuumed out of the line. The fiberscope was attached to vacuum tubing, allowing an image of the line?s interior to be transmitted to the HMD worn by the operator. The operator then could watch as the shavings were removed and ensure that the area was clean.

In another instance, the repair area?s image was transmitted to a nearby monitor, allowing a quality assurance observer the check the job while remaining outside the contaminated area.