Inspection and reconditioning activities in natural draft cooling towers

The main objective of Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) is to generate safe, clean and reliable energy. For this reason, it is essential to ensure the highest compliance standards of safety, efficiency and reliability of every single system, structure and component (SSC) under any circumstance. This is even more important in the current context, where nuclear energy is one of the fundamental pillars to guarantee demand coverage, contributing to mitigate climate change and regulating the energy pool prices.

In any Power Plant there are a multitude of components and structures whose function is essential and, consequently, must be taken care of and maintained. In this way, the inspection, diagnosis, maintenance and improvement of engineering feats, as unique and complex as natural draft cooling towers, is one of the challenges that, as nuclear professionals, we must address.

Due to its importance, singularity and magnitude, the use of appropriate procedures and technologies, which are increasingly avant-garde and innovative, are essential to accomplish the activities with safety, efficiency and accurate results.

This article is based on the two natural cooling towers in Cofrentes NPP, in which there will be a review of the evolution of techniques and the use of the different inspection technologies applied since its construction, up to the recent inspection of the outer concrete surface with drones, and its subsequent reconditioning by rope access specialists.

Besides presenting the differences between the methods used and the data and conclusions obtained during the different inspections over the years, this article aims to:

  • Present conclusions derived from the 2020 drone inspections on structure state and the techniques used.
  • Describe the process followed in the reconditioning activities during 2022 on certain areas of the outer concrete surface using the results obtained from the previous inspection and show how they are related to industrial safety and human performance.
  • In conclusion, outline the direction in which the field of characterization and recognition of ESC is heading, in particular the civil infrastructures with similar characteristics.
¡Recibe nuestra newsletter!

    The data provided by you is processed by the Spanish Nuclear Society in accordance with EU Regulation 2016/679 on Data Protection, with the purpose of managing your requests, answering queries, administrative, statistical processing and sending SNE communications, about your activity, events, etc. The transfer of data is not foreseen (unless legally required) or international data transfers; and through the Privacy Policy you have all the rights that assist you in terms of privacy.