GE Carolina High-Tech Gets US Test Funds
The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy effort to lower the cost – in time and dollars -- of nuclear power plant replacement parts with 3D printing.
The $2 million additive manufacturing research project will use 3D printing to produce replacement part prototypes and subject the samples to a number of tests after irradiation in the Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor.
The GE Hitachi project is part of an $80 million investment in 93 advanced nuclear technology projects the Energy Department announced in mid-June.
Funding from DOE’s Nuclear Science User Facilities program will give GE Hitachi access to state-of-the-art neutron and gamma irradiation and post-irradiation examination services, the Wilmington-based U.S.-Japanese nuclear venture explained.
As part of the research project, GE Hitachi said, it will produce sample nuclear power plant replacement parts which will be 3D printed in metal at the GE Power Advanced Manufacturing Works facility in Greenville, SC.
Once printed, the parts will be shipped to Idaho for exposure to radiation. This will allow GE Hitachi test the irradiated parts and compare them to unirradiated materials to determine the uses and potentials of deploying 3D printing parts for fuels, services, and new plant applications.
“The potential of 3D printing to speed delivery time and reduce the cost of manufacturing performance-enhancing replacement parts for nuclear power plants is quite significant,” GE Hitachi chief executive Jay Wileman said.
-- Jim Brumm