Vectran fiber used in slings to lift nuclear power turbines
As nuclear power plants seek to boost energy efficiency, operators are increasingly using synthetic slings containing high-tech Vectran fibers to lift heavy turbines for safety, productivity and performance benefits.
Super-strong Vectran fiber is regularly used in slings for these heavy lifting jobs to hoist nuclear turbines weighing up to 250 tons, or the equivalent of 150 pick-up trucks, for maintenance and replacement with more advanced power-generating units.
The fiber-based slings provide a number of benefits to operators over traditional wire rope slings that can weigh 90 percent more, including increased worker safety, cost savings and improved productivity.
Synthetic Sling Pioneers
SlingMax Rigging Solutions, a world-leading provider of advanced rigging products, pioneered synthetic slings for nuclear turbine lifts in the mid-1980s.
“Nuclear turbine lifts have to be done with surgical precision,” said Dennis St. Germain, CEO of SlingMax, manufacturer of Twin-Path slings with K-Spec cores. “Our slings enable power plant operators to do their jobs safer and with less down time.”
Shutting down a nuclear power plant for maintenance can cost millions of dollars because the companies have to buy power from alternative sources during the outage.
Savings of $1 million per day are common when using Twin-Path slings with K-Spec cores over steel rigging slings because nuclear plants can get back in service quicker, St. Germain said.
Among the other benefits of synthetic slings are less exposure for workers to radioactive elements because of the quicker installation; easier storage and transportation; less heavy equipment required in the lift; and easier inspection for damage due to a fiber-optic system.
Safer Work Places
Synthetic slings have changed the way employees at many power plants work by providing greater reliability, easier use and improved safety. Rigging crews using the slings are better protected against the possibility of job hazards such as being pinched between equipment or knocked over by a heavy wire sling, and a single worker can carry a sling on his own versus needing a crane to move it.
The performance of a sling also is critical to protect the power plant equipment that is not quickly replaceable if damaged. The abrasion-resistant covers around the slings help to protect against damage to the machinery.
Twin-Path slings with K-Spec cores were featured this month on the National Geographic series, World's Toughest Fixes, in a segment where PPL workers successfully replaced a rotor at the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania that powers a million homes.
Vectran Fiber at the Core
Vectran's high strength, low elongation, abrasion resistance and essentially no creep are among the features that make it sought for tough lifting applications, according to Robert Knudsen, manager of sales and marketing for Kuraray America, Inc.'s Vectran division.