Greater Safety, Lower Cost of Ownership

When you think of nuclear power, what comes to mind?

For many, the image of a nuclear power plant hasn’t changed much from the first generation of large-scale reactors built in the mid-1900s. However, through the use of innovative components and forward-thinking design, modern nuclear power plants are becoming safer and more cost efficient.

SCHOTT is an international technology group with 130 years of experience in the areas of specialty glasses and advanced technologies. Using glass-to-metal sealing technology for the manufacture of hermetically-sealed components, SCHOTT has established itself as a trusted supplier of high quality and safety-relevant electrical penetration assemblies for the nuclear power industry dating back to the early 1960s.

What does glass have to do with nuclear plant components?

Nuclear power plant containments are sealed-off constructions designed to safely enclose the nuclear reactor. In order to keep the radioactive high-energy source controlled, electricity is needed inside the containment structure to power thousands of instruments, control panels, electric motors and many other electronic devices.

Electrical penetrations enable the safe conduction of electricity through the fire-protective, pressure-resistant and hermetically-sealed containment walls of nuclear power plants. While there are a variety of material options available, electrical penetrations using glass-to-metal sealing technology represent the best choice for longevity and safety-relevant qualities.

Glass-to-metal sealed electrical penetrations are created by fusing specialty glass and metal together at extremely high temperatures to create a hermetic seal. The integrity of the seal is so strong that it has proven to be capable of providing a safety margin to withstand future increased severe accident condition standards. These include exposure to elevated temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius for several hours as well as flooding scenarios.

In short, SCHOTT manufactures Eternaloc® glass-to-metal sealed electrical penetrations assemblies to offer a safer, long-lasting component for instrumentation and control transmission in nuclear power plant containments. 

Why is glass-to-metal sealing technology important?

For decades, organic polymer seals have served as the status quo of the nuclear power industry. However, these seals cannot meet the demanding standards for high temperature and pressure resistance required by new builds of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) or High-temperature Reactors (HTR), which represent the next generation of nuclear power innovation. Glass-to-metal sealing technology offers extremely robust high temperature and pressure resistance that makes it a safety-conscious, long-lasting feedthrough option for nuclear power applications, including and especially the latest reactor technology. 

How does utilizing glass-to-metal sealed penetrations lead to cost-saving benefits?

While polymer seals need to be replaced and decontaminated every 20-30 years because they degrade and age over time, non-aging glass seals are qualified for 60 years of use. Since they do not need to be replaced as frequently over the lifespan of the reactor, plant owners (and in most cases, tax payers) save in labor and material costs (based on an average figure of around 40 penetration replacements). Savings of $25-50 million can be realized when considering these figures in the reactor’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), in addition to the enhanced efficiency and safety offered by these components.

Learn more about SCHOTT by viewing the video above or feel free to contact a SCHOTT representative by clicking here.
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