The Embalse CANDU pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) is owned and operated by Nucleoeléctrica Argentina Sociedad Anónima (NASA). The single-unit CANDU 6 reactor has a gross output of 648 MWe. Construction started in 1976, and the Embalse plant began commercial operation in January 1984.
In December 1982, fuel loading began, and Embalse was declared in service on Jan. 20, 1984. As well as supplying electricity, Embalse is also used to produce Cobalt-60, a radioisotope used in medical and industrial applications.
In 2011, NASA signed a contract to retube the Embalse reactor, commonly called life extension. During this process, all 380 fuel channels and calandria tubes, along with the 760 feeder pipes, will be replaced, among other maintenance work. The life extension outage is currently scheduled to begin in early 2015.
Major Project Milestones
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Embalse Nuclear Generating Station Life Extension
This life extension project will allow Argentina’s Embalse Nuclear Station to continue producing safe, reliable power for up to another 30 years.
We have delivered the tools, equipment and engineering to allow Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NA-SA) to replace the 380 pressure tubes that hold the nuclear fuel bundles. This includes engineering, procuring and testing 370 state-of-the-art tooling systems. We’re helping NA-SA train staff at its reactor mock-up facility to maximize worker safety and efficiency. Our mandate also includes the engineering and equipment to replace the station’s digital control computers, deliver a state-of-the-art emergency power supply, increase the power output, enhance the safety systems and provide up-to-date safety analysis and assessments. The Embalse station shut down for this project in December 2015; the outage is expected to last until March 2018.
The Embalse CANDU 6 reactor began commercial operation in January 1984. The single-unit has a gross output of 648 MWe.
About CANDU life extension projects
CANDU reactors are designed to undergo a mid-life retube to help utilities extend the life of their reactor as opposed to decommissioning it and replacing it with a new one, or finding replacement energy sources that are often more expensive, less accessible and not as environmentally friendly.
Retubing the reactor involves removing and replacing (for a CANDU 6 design) all 380 calandria tubes and fuel channels as well as the 760 reactor feeders. Our specially-designed remotely controlled tools and massive, highly shielded machines are required to conduct the work safely inside the reactor due to the radioactive environment.
During the retubing outage, utilities often choose to undertake refurbishment activities that will improve the reliability and safety of the plant.