The valve housing was supplied by Neles Oy and installed at Olkiluoto by TVO, which owns and operates two boiling water reactor units at Olkiluoto.
The actual valve inside the 3D printed housing is a standard T5-series ball valve of stainless steel. The size of the valve housing is 20cm x 40cm, but the printer is the size of an SUV.
TVO said in a statement that the 3D printed valve housing, and other 3D components that might become available in the future, offer an alternative in a situation where the number of suppliers for nuclear power plants is being reduced. “This gives us the possibility to produce a unique component by printing it ourselves, said the company’s life cycle management engineer Dino Nerweyi.
Fortum, for its part, wants to contribute to the possibility of using 3D printing in the manufacture of safety-classified components for nuclear power plants, in particular. When a component no longer is directly available from manufacturers, 3D printing might offer significant cost savings, Fortum said. Fortum owns and operates two pressurised water reactor units at the Loviisa nuclear station.
The two companies said the technology and knowledge of 3D materials have evolved to a degree that allows the use of 3D printing in the nuclear energy industry. Tests are providing valuable information on whether 3D printing could be used to produce components with considerably shorter delivery times.