Component Qualification for Nuclear Plants

Since 1975, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has provided services related to the qualifications of components for nuclear power plant applications.

Testing and Experimentation

Rapid Response

  • Fast test plan and report turnaround
  • Flexible test schedule

Test Specifications

  • US NRC Regulatory Guides
  • IEEE 323, IEEE 344, and daughter standards
  • ASME, ASCE, and other codes

Seismic Qualification Tests

  • Independent biaxial excitation
  • Resonance frequency research
  • Sine dwell, sine beat, and random earthquake simulation
  • Following of taped earthquake signals
  • Enveloping of required response spectra (RRS)
  • Electrical and mechanical functional checks

Radiation aging of components is performed in the Institute's 270-square-foot twin cell gamma radiation facility. Remote manipulators and access ports enable operations of irradiated test items during test.



A lumped mass finite element model of an electrical panel is used for qualification by SwRI analysts.


Thermal Aging Tests

  • Test to Arrhenius curves
  • Post-seismic environmental extremes

Nuclear Radiation Aging

  • Gamma radiation source
  • Multipoint source for radiation homogeneity

On-site Testing

  • Modal analysis
  • Service environments measurements

Design Support Experimentation

  • Scale-model dynamics tests
  • Fluid-structure interaction
  • Tests in combination with analysis
  • Fluid slosh experiments
  • Real-time data analysis during test
  • Design, construction, and testing of special scale models
  • On-site testing of plant components

Dynamic Analysis

Problem Areas

  • System/component design
  • System/component qualification
  • Fluid transient loads
  • Seismic liquid slosh
  • Thermal and hydraulic loads

The SwRI-designed electrohydraulic biaxial shaker system rides on orthogonal bearing sets to provide simultaneous, uncorrelated motion in both vertical and horizontal planes. The table can accommodate test objects to 6,000 pounds deadweight.


Structural Analysis Techniques

  • Finite element formulations
  • Equivalent static loads
  • Dynamic loads analysis
    • Modal analysis methods
    • Time-history integration
    • Response spectra methods
    • Prediction of peak stresses, motion, and pressures

Experience Data

  • USI A-46 Requirements for Operating Plants
  • Equipment similarity requirements
  • Development of composite spectra

Consultation Services

  • Interpretation of component qualification requirements
  • Development of test plans and procedures
  • Technical interpretation of new documents
  • Review of qualification reports

The Institute fabricated this 1/30-scale model nuclear plant steam suppression pool.


Quality Assurance

  • Program development to meet applicable quality requirements
  • Test surveillance
  • Review of qualification documentation
  • Nuclear quality assurance program manual

This brochure was published in June 1994. For more information about component qualification for nuclear plants, contact Jenny Ferren, Mechanical Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 25810, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-3644, Fax (210) 522-4506.

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