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Ansaldo Nuclear supports highly-efficient refueling operation

14 February 2020

Ansaldo Nuclear’s FHMCS, used during the latest successful refuelling operation at Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant, China, stands out as one of the safest, most efficient and reliable control systems in the nuclear market.

Ansaldo Nuclear recently provided the Fuel Handling Machine Control System (FHMCS) to Atommashexport  for the latest refueling operation at Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in China. Contracted for the provision of an FHMCS for Units 3 and 4 of the plant, Ansaldo Nuclear was present throughout the refuel to provide technical support and assistance. Further activity for the second refueling of both units is planned for 2020.

The FHMCS designed for the latest Tainwan project took 18 months to perfect and is based on microprocessor technology, conceived to increase the reliability level of the operation of the fuel handling machine. The design approach is a fully automated fuel handling process, compliant with the most up-to-date international requirements and standards, specifically with electromagnetic disturbance immunity demands and seismic requirements.

The main features of the design are fully redundant hardware architecture and power supply, different operating modes, such as fully automatic, semi-automatic, manual protected and  training, real-time control of all the functions with graphical displays that yield a synthetic representation of the FHM actual physical status and a user-friendly human machine interface, implemented on graphical workstations in redundant configuration.

The FHMCS is accompanied by a simulator for training purposes. The simulator permits simulated operations which do not generate any real movement on the machine. It is able to provide feedback on the real machine movements and emulate the signals coming from the reactor building in order to simulate malfunctions and emergency situations.

On site in China was Senior EC&I Engineer at Ansaldo Nucleare, Andrea Bagnasco. Responsible for the implementation of the control system, Andrea ensured the operation ran smoothly and safely.

Andrea Bagnasco comments: “There are two issues that are critical to avoid during the refueling process. The first is any disturbance to the integrity of the fuel element, while the second is the economic disruption caused to the plant as a result of unexpected delays.

“By designing, manufacturing and installing a control system which effectively streamlined the transport process, whilst protecting against any related safety issues, Ansaldo Nuclear was ultimately able to mitigate both of these threats. Using a well-proven in use hardware and software platform, our FHMCS stands out as one of the safest, most efficient and most reliable control systems in the nuclear market.”

Due to the efficiency and intuitiveness of the FHMCS, over a three day period during December 2019, the on-site operators in China were able to complete the entire refuelling process in time with minimal assistance from Ansaldo Nuclear representatives.

The successful implementation of the FHMCS and the refueling operation which followed marks just another of Ansaldo Nuclear’s many commitments to the Tianwan plant and long term relationship with Atommashexport, having provided control systems and site assistance for the plant’s four fuel handling machines since 2001.

Ansaldo Nuclear’s scope for FHMCS included the design of the entire system, manufacture and site support both in Russian Federation, for integration tests, and in China, during commissioning and first outages.


For further information, images or quotes, please contact or call Claire on +44 7729 097 380.