Gas Turbines, Nuclear

Siemens Produced 3D-Printed Part Operating in Nuclear Power Plant

By Editors of Power Engineering

Siemens announced it has successfully installed a part for a nuclear power plant.

The replacement part, a metallic, 108mm diameter impeller for a fire protection pump within the Krško nuclear power plant in Slovenia, is now in constant operation.

The original impeller was in operation since the plant’s commissioning in 1981, and a regular replacement part was unavailable as the original manufacturer is no longer in business. The company reverse-engineered a digital twin of the part, and used its additive manufacturing facility in Finspang, Sweden to produce the part.

The replacement part was then extensively tested over several months, including testing at an independent institute as well as a CT scan, to ensure the printed part was superior than the original part.

“The better than expected performance of this 3D-printed part gave us confidence that we can reach the full life expectancy from our asset,” said Vinko Planinc, Head of Maintenance at the Krško plant.

Siemens noted obsolete, non-OEM parts are particularly well-suited for 3D printing as they and their designs are virtually impossible to obtain.

“We continue to push forward our investments and cutting-edge advancements in additive manufacturing and 3D printing,” said Tim Holt, CEO of Siemens Power Generation Services division. “This achievement at the Krško nuclear power plant is another example of how the digital transformation and the data-driven capabilities we have are impacting the energy industry in ways that really matter. Additive manufacturing’s reduced lead times and faster production optimizes parts replacement and creates real value for our customers.”

Siemens and Krško plan to continue research and development in this area and are looking at advancing the design of parts that are most difficult to produce using classical manufacturing techniques, such as lightweight structures with improved cooling pattern.

The first 3D-printed burner component for a Siemens heavy-duty gas turbine has been in successful commercial operation in a power plant in Brno, Czech Republic, since June 2016. It has achieved 1,600 equivalent operating hours without causing any forced outages. The company has also tested power generation gas turbine blades produced through 3D printing.