Moving to not so heavy metal



Nuclear reactors have special technical needs. Not least when it comes to insulation. Nobody knows this as well as KAEFER WANNER in France, who have been working on upgrading the insulation in the world’s largest producer of nuclear power.

France is one of the world’s leaders in nuclear energy, where 70% of its power production is coming from. The upkeep of the 56 reactors in France is a major job and KAEFER WANNER has been using the synergies in the Franco-German teams to modernise and replace conventional insulation with Reflective Metal Insulation (RMI).

Unlike other insulation materials, RMI not affected by compaction, decomposition or moisture absorption over time. The closed cassette design makes them comparatively easy to install. RMI technology can also be used as a vapour barrier because it is water-resistant. RMI is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic, which makes installation safer and places fewer demands on safety equipment. A major advantage of RMI is that it is easy to decontaminate. Due to the closed construction in stainless steel, RMI modules are particularly easy to clean. RMI is, due to manufacturing, more expensive than conventional insulation materials, but is increasingly becoming mandatory due to new regulations in France.


Change as a challenge

For KAEFER WANNER, one of the major challenges of installing RMI is to ensure the same thermal performance that clients have become used to. Making changes to established practices that have been in place for many years can be difficult. But the benefits of RMI are clear: increased performance, longevity and flexibility in maintenance. Reduced times for disassembly and reassembly of insulation, during a power plant shutdown (outage). This also reduces the radiological dose absorbed by installation personnel in radiation-exposed areas of a plant. Furthermore, KAEFER WANNER adopts a tailored approach, with each insulation system custom designed, engineered and manufactured for a plant’s specific requirements.

KAEFER WANNER adopts a tailored approach, with each insulation system custom designed, engineered and manufactured.

New relationships and new methods

In responding to the changes and new requirements of the marketplace, KAEFER WANNER took advantage of the special expertise of its colleagues in Germany (CCCN). This close collaboration also helped to establish new methods, with the manufacture of the RMI taking place at the workshop in Pompignac using a laser cutting machine. The German competence team CCCN led by Hans Joachim Riekenberg, the Pompignac Workshop run by Rémy Fagnot and thermal studies carried out by Nicolas Bron, thermal design engineer, with support of their German colleagues as well as adopting a LEAN manufacturing approach all came together to successfully help bringing French nuclear facilities into the future.

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