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KMT - Ultra High Pressure Pumps Used For Nuclear Decommissioning

KMT Waterjet Systems : 19 July, 2007  (Company News)
Nuclear Engineering Services has been supplied by Power Jet Systems with a number of KMT Waterjet Cutting Systems' ultra-high-pressure pumps, cutting heads and ancillary products. In many cases the pumps are installed as upgrades to equipment that is being used for nuclear decommissioning tasks.
A key factor when dealing with radioactive material is the build up of hydrogen, which is flammable, so 'cold' processes have to be used - such as waterjet cutting. This process is particularly useful as the versatile technology can be used to cut through almost anything - including stainless steel and concrete - and cutting heads can easily be incorporated on to the end of remotely operated manipulators or other equipment. However, as the water cuts through the radioactive material, it also becomes contaminated, and this so-called secondary waste then has to be dealt with.

While this is not especially difficult or expensive in comparison with other decontamination work, there is clearly a need to minimise the amount of secondary waste. One way to reduce the amount of contaminated water created during decommissioning and decontamination is to utilise lower flow rates through ultra-high-pressure pump, such as the design available from KMT Waterjet Systems. The ultra-high-pressure water cutting technique reduces water consumption considerably, this can be up to a factor of ten over more traditional higher volume applications.

In one application, three 25HP pumps were replaced by a single 75HP KMT pump. Power Jet Systems supplied the pump to Nuclear Engineering Services, which enabled the UHPG pump to be mounted locally for a 'size reduction' cutting system for its client in the nuclear industry.

Bob Phillips of Power Jet Systems, explains the benefits of the KMT pumps when used in the nuclear industry: 'KMT Waterjet systems is at the forefront of intensifier development and uses the best materials, has the best designs and manufacturing processes. Through the process of continuous improvement, so the pumps today are exceptionally reliable - this is of the utmost importance in the nuclear industry, as carrying out repairs is either extremely expensive or not possible at all.'

Other applications in the nuclear industry that Power Jet Systems and Nuclear Engineering Services are currently developing include scabbling to remove the top layer of radioactive concrete from applications such as pond walls, where radioactive material is stored under water.

Another application currently under development is removal of spilt cement from the area around the encapsulation equipment used to seal radioactive waste in drums. In some cases water is used on its own at up to 60,000psi as the cutting medium, abrasives are used on thicker and more dense materials.

Beyond the nuclear industry, Power Jet Systems and Nuclear Engineering Services also get involved with the types of industrial application for which waterjet cutting is more usually employed. For instance, one customer was supplied with a complete cutting system - comprising a table, KMT intensifier and cutting head - for removing castings from trees. Compared with alternative technologies, waterjet cutting is a clean, efficient, user-friendly process for this type of task.

Bob Phillips concludes: 'I firmly believe that KMT make the best intensifiers in the world but just as important is the level of service we get from them. Technical support, both pre-sale and post-sale, is very good, and KMT will even supply an engineer if we are performing on-site trials for a customer. Our two companies have a very good working relationship and this has undoubtedly benefited our sister company Nuclear Engineering Services.'
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