Open Die Forging Le Creusot 800 5fbd810a73fbb

Forging Begins for New Nuclear Reactor Parts

Nov. 24, 2020
Open-die forging has started at Le Creusot to produce 16 structural shells as replacement components for nuclear reactors, working under new technical qualifications for equipment and processes.

The French developer and manufacturer of nuclear-power technologies and plants has increased production of replacement parts at its forging plant in Le Creusot, France. Production began recently on the first “shell” to be used in fabricating replacement steam generators for the French nuclear power system. Framatome – the business controlled by Électricité de France (EDF) (75.5%) in partnership with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (19.5%), and Assystem (5%) – operates the open-die forging operation that is one of handful of plants certified to manufacture the structural elements of a reactor plant.

The same plant also forges components used in nuclear-powered defense systems.

A shell is a cylindrical or conical component. A series of shells is welded together to form the external body of a reactor’s “primary loop components,” such as steam generators, vessels, and pressurizers.

Framatome is responsible for developing, manufacturing, and installing components, fuel, and control systems for nuclear power plants and offers a full range of reactor services. It is responsible for the Flamanville 3 nuclear power plant in France, as well as other plants in China and the U.K.

The new forging program underway at Le Creusot followed Framatome gaining the French Nuclear Safety Authority’s (ASN) validation of the technical qualifications to manufacture a series of 16 shells. This technical qualification is based on the requirements defined by French regulations for nuclear pressure equipment and include updated specifications for the equipment and manufacturing processes.

In 2015 French regulatory agents announced the discovery of material defects some areas of the vessel closure head and vessel bottom head of the Flamanville EPR reactor. The Le Creusot forging operation was idled later that year, and extensive surveys were conducted of parts manufactured there and installed in nuclear power systems.

In January 2018 Framatome gained approval from ASN and EDF to resume forging components at Le Creusot for French nuclear installations.

"This new milestone at the Le Creusot plant is made possible by our employees’ commitment and actions taken to achieve operational excellence in plant performance," stated Jean-Bernard Ville, senior executive vice president of the Projects and Components Manufacturing Business Unit for Framatome. "Our ambition at Framatome is to position our plant as the world’s benchmark for industrial excellence in the nuclear industry and the defense sector."