DME Engineering Services

LUCAS HEIGHTS NUCLEAR REACTOR – JOHN HOLLAND EDI JOINT VENTURE

One of the most prestigious projects that DME has worked on, has been the new Replacement Research Reactor Project located at Lucas Heights, Sydney.

A total of 10 vessels in all were supplied by our company; two radioactive-decay tanks, two radioactive-liquid waste tanks, two deuterium tanks, one heavy-water storage tank, one helium relief tank … and the two largest vessels of the nuclear reactor system – the Service Pool and the Reactor Pool itself.

The Reactor Pool is the centrepiece of the system – a cylindrical vessel 14m high, 4.5m in diameter, 28 tonnes in weight, and comprising of critical process nozzle attachment points and many hundreds of internal support brackets – all of which had positioning tolerances achieved to within the 1mm required by the engineering designers. Additionally, the base connection flange on the Reactor Pool (due to it being the central reference point for the entire new reactor system at the Lucas Heights site) was machined, allowing for a tolerance of 0.1mm to be achieved by our engineering workshop crew.

The vessels and pipework manufactured by DME for the project were subject to stringent testing and inspection regimes – by the many levels of companies & authorities involved in the project. DME utilised its own QA system, accredited to ISO9001:2000 standards, to carry out the requirements as outlined by the Design Specifications and Manufacturing Codes. It was also necessary though to meet the inspection and documentation requirements of our Client: the John-Holland / EDI Consortium; the Argentineans Design Engineering Company: INVAP; the Lucas Heights Reactor Operators: ANSTO; as well as the Government Regulatory Authority: ARPANSA.

The successful completion of the pipework & vessels above, led to further work at the Lucas Heights site itself, covering major structural steelwork and components across the site … the most prominent being the manufacture and installation of the Aircraft Impact Protection Grillage Cage that is positioned on top of the new Reactor Building. This involved the off-site manufacture of over 400 individual beam &channel components, all pre-drilled with more than 10,000 holes … and weighing more than 200 tonnes in total. The components were delivered to site, and then aligned & bolted together to form the "mesh-type" structure. This was then lifted in sections onto the Reactor Building Roof and secured in position, using a massive 800 tonne crane. An indication of the precision of the manufacturing process back in the workshop was evidenced by the fact that, all bolt holes and securing points lined up exactly at site!

There is no doubt that from both a production and QA documentation aspect, that this project was one of the biggest and most challenging that our company has worked on, and it is a testament to all involved, of what can be achieved when you have a good team, good communication, and a good working relationship with the Client.