Nuclear Nitrogen Running Strong

The Exelon LaSalle County Generating Station is a nuclear power plant located in Illinois about 75 miles Southwest of Chicago. This dual reactor facility produces enough energy to power more than 2.3 million average American homes.

In 2005, the plant’s original nitrogen compression system was experiencing constant failures and proving very unreliable. The nuclear power plant needed a compression system that was not only reliable, but that would not contaminate their high purity nitrogen. They chose Hycomp to meet their project requirements and replace the failing system.

Six years later, in April of 2011, the Hycomp oil-free nitrogen booster duplex system tallied just over 42,000 (over 21,000 per unit) hours of operation on only oil changes for preventative maintenance. The facility maintenance crew decided to change out the valves and invited a Hycomp service technician to assist and train their maintenance staff. The standard Hycomp schedule for changing out valves is 8,000 hours of operation; at 21,000 hours (per compressor) of operation the Hycomp system showed no significant signs of decreased performance. After the rebuild, the compressors continue to run as smoothly and reliably as they were at startup.

Amy Myer, Mechanical Engineer at the LaSalle County Generation Station is very pleased with the performance of their nitrogen system, “Our Hycomp compressors give us the flexibility we wanted, we can easily switch between the lead and lag compressors, change set-points on the fly, and the maintenance is straight forward.”

The nuclear power plant’s nitrogen system is used to eliminate the introduction of compressed air into the reactor’s dry well and to minimize the need for venting to the environment. The nitrogen system provides pneumatic service for instrumentation to ensure the oxygen concentration is maintained at less than 5% inside the dry well.