UAE’s Barakah nuclear plant sets global benchmark

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation has successfully completed welding work for the reactor coolant loop piping for Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant

Once completed, the Barakah plant is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs.
Once completed, the Barakah plant is expected to deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has announced successfully completing welding work for the reactor coolant loop (RCL) piping and the reactor containment building (RCB) dome structure for Unit 3 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.

The completion of pipe welding for the reactor coolant loop has set a new global benchmark for quality in pipe welding, according to state news agency, WAM.

Completion of welding work for the RCB dome structure, meanwhile, marks the conclusion of major construction activities for the building.

These achievements reportedly establish another set of milestones, in terms of safety and promptness, in the construction of Unit 3, which is now 69% complete.

The dome is the final structural component of the vast RCB, which houses the nuclear reactor and is a critical structure in the nuclear plant’s defence-in-depth barriers. RCBs need to be extremely robust in design. With their thick concrete walls and heavy reinforcing steel, they rank among the strongest structures in the world.

Among the next steps in the construction process is the testing of the structural integrity of the RCB, including its ability to withstand high internal pressure.

The RCL is said to play a key role in the transfer of heat from the reactor vessel (RV), via a separate circuit, to the steam generators. The generators use the heat to produce the steam that is required to spin the turbine-generator. This action produces the electricity, which will be delivered through the UAE’s electricity grid to power homes and businesses across the country.

After passing through the steam generators, the water is cooled and returned to the RV through a different set of pipes. The process is driven by the primary coolant pumps.

A large number of heavy wall piping welds were completed with outstanding results, establishing a new industry benchmark for quality for similar operations. A narrow groove, automatic welding technique was used by 10 welding operators, using the latest technology, to assemble and install the RCL piping. After the welding was completed, verification tests were carried out to establish the high quality of the welds.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of ENEC, said: "These milestones are a result of our extensive collaboration with our prime contractor and joint venture partner, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), as well as sub-contractors like the Hyundai-Samsung Joint Venture (HSJV) and Sam Jin.”

He added: "The development of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program is already bringing many benefits beyond providing the nation with safe, clean, and reliable energy. These benefits include the creation of high-value job opportunities and the emergence of a new sophisticated industrial sector to support our operations in Barakah."

Ahmed Al Rumaithi, ENEC’s Deputy CEO, commented: "The extremely low, benchmark-setting weld repair rates achieved during the welding of RCL pipes and the successful completion of the RCB dome structure on Unit 3 are a result of the rigorous application of lessons learned during the construction of Units 1 and 2, highlighting the benefits of building four identical units at the same time.

Since its inception in 2009, ENEC has focussed on the safe delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program. Construction of Unit 3 began in 2014 and it is now 69% complete. All four units are 78% complete. Once the four reactors are online, the facility will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs.

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