Thomas A. Christopher
These are exciting times in the nuclear power industry: Capacity factors are the highest they have ever been, outage durations are falling, and production costs are attractively low in comparison with some other forms of generation. And Framatome ANP, Inc., led by President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas A. Christopher, is at the right place at the right time. Christopher took over the reins of this exciting company in April 2000, after having served most recently as Vice President and General Manager of the Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation's Energy Services Divisions.
Framatome ANP, Inc. (Advanced Nuclear Power) provides specialized design engineering, operation and maintenance services, specialized parts and equipment, and fuel and fuel-related control components to the nuclear power generation industry in North America and internationally. Framatome ANP combines the nuclear activities of Framatome and Siemens to create the world's leading nuclear supplier. "Our culture of excellence looks beyond traditional answers to offer the very best technical solutions for safe, reliable, and economical plant performance," said Christopher.
During the past twenty years, Framatome ANP has designed and built more power plants than any other nuclear supplier. The company is the OEM for more than 90 reactors that provide nearly 30% of the world's total installed nuclear power capacity. "And we are building for tomorrow by investing in the latest technologies and innovation for both PWRs and BWRs. Working together, Framatome ANP in France, Germany, and the U.S. is designing the future of nuclear power to help satisfy the world's growing energy demands" reported Christopher.
Low production costs and energy security issues are fueling a renewed emphasis on nuclear power. Today, the nuclear industry is responding with plant life extensions and power upgrades. These plants are valuable assets that need to be preserved, particularly in the areas of component repairs and replacement and electrical and I&C upgrades. To meet these modernization challenges, nuclear plants are looking to service providers for assistance to form long-term alliances.
Previously, plant operators dealt with a multitude of suppliers. Each of these required formal requests for proposal is a time-consuming process.
Today, the number of utilities established alliances or partnering arrangements is mushrooming. And consolidation in the nuclear utility industry, in particular, has led to the formation of multiple types of partnering utilities and a single vendor. Some are between a utility and a consortium of vendors, some are a group of utilities that have banded together to achieve volume discounts for service and components, and yet another model is an arrangement in which a single company operates multiple plants for different owners. Reliance on a particular vendor or group of vendors now allows the utility to improve the overall operations of their plants through cost reductions, risk sharing and other benefits. Forming alliances to take on this broad range of responsibilities is Framatome's forte.
Framatome ANP Inc. has a staff of more than 2100 nuclear professionals that provide responsive services, fuel, and technological innovation to customers worldwide. The company provides engineering support for a wide variety of reactor systems and designs; digital instrumentation and control systems, modernization, and a full range of outage services that includes major component repair and replacement, NDE inspections, chemical cleaning, decontamination, and refueling.
Typical Work Scopes
Full scope outage services, including refueling, steam generator inspections and services, pump and motor services and RV head inspection, and repair, are a few of the work scopes usually covered by partnering arrangements. However, fuel, mechanical components, plant modifications, valves, I&C/ electrical systems, and welding work also can be included. The initial length of an alliance tends to be between three and five years with options for continuation based upon performance.
Evaluation is Essential
An evaluation mechanism with pre-established criteria for performance is a key feature of alliances. These criteria usually are in the areas of safety, long-term cost reduction goals, production targets, quality, schedule, radiation dose reduction and overall cost goals. The parties mutually agree to the goals of the alliance and participate equally in the analysis.
Both share in the risks and the rewards, so each has an incentive to exceed the established goals. Other types of performance measurements include industry plant ratings and rankings, safety standards, and cost of production.
An increasingly competitive marketplace will drive the need for low-cost operations and maximum output by all nuclear power plant operators. Thus, the trend towards partnering-type relationships will continue.
Optimizing the CI to Get More Power Out of Your PWR
Up to now nuclear power plant operators and suppliers have focused on optimizing the Nuclear Island (NI) as well as the turbine generator set to obtain more power put of their plants. Little attention has been paid to the fact that the Balance of Plant (BOP) - also known as the Conventional Island (CI) - also offers many opportunities for increasing net electric output at relatively low cost and with short payback periods.
The CI is a highly complex network of pipes, process components, and instrumentation and control systems that serve the sole purpose of efficiently and reliably converting thermal energy to electricity. At many plants, electric output can be increased by up to 4% through a variety of carefully coordinated measures without having to increase the thermal output of the reactor.
Most of today's nuclear power plants were built according to the Architect-Engineer (AE) model where one company supplied the nuclear steam supply system or the NI, several companies supplied the BOP systems, and all of their various tasks were coordinated by the AE. This often resulted in individual BOP systems being improved without the plant as a whole being optimized.
Framatome ANP, with its wide-ranging expertise in turnkey plant construction, follows a holistic approach: it treats the entire BOP as a single entity - the CI - while carefully accounting for its interaction with the NI at one end and the conditions of the main heat sink at the other.
Framatome ANP currently is performing a CI optimization study, based on this holistic approach, for the first time with a Japanese client. The study, started in June 2002, should be completed by March 2003. Working in close cooperation with the customer, areas for improvement are being identified.
The company's comprehensive portfolio is impressive: it has manufactured and installed 272 steam generators, including 79 replacement steam generators, with another 27 on order. It has also manufactured 220 reactor coolant pumps and motors, and built 45 replacements Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) heads with an additional 14 on order. Fourteen replacement RPV heads are under contract. Framatome ANP also supplies fuel to 115 PWRs and 28 BWRs around the world.
Current major projects include the development of advanced reactors (such as the EPR and SWR 1000), and construction of new plants in Asia.
Following a successful project at North Anna Unit 2, Framatome ANP, an AREVA and Siemens company, will provide Dominion Energy with two additional reactor vessel heads and perform the replacement work at North Anna Unit 1 and Surry Unit 1.
Framatome ANP delivered the reactor vessel head for North Anna Unit 2 on December 17, 2002. It was the first time the company shipped a major component by air, which was necessary in order to meet Dominion's schedule for returning the plant to service. The reactor vessel head was installed by Framatome ANP and plant technicians.
On April 30, 2002, Framatome ANP completed its purchase of Duke Engineering and Services (DE&S). The organization, called Framatome ANP DE&S, will maintain its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Ground was broken on March 30, 2002, for the Framatome ANP Nuclear Training Center at Lynchburg, VA. This 27,000 square-foot (2508m2) facility will house classrooms, office space, and full-scale mock-ups of a reactor vessel head, fuel-handling crane, and other heavy equipment. In addition, there will be a water-filled reactor vessel pit for wet-fuel movement training.
Framatome ANP Opens Canadian Subsidiary
Framatome ANP Canada, Ltd., a new subsidiary of Framatome ANP, Inc. will focus on the Canadian nuclear services market. This market has Canada 14 nuclear reactors. Ontario Power Generation owns 12.
Framatome ANP just received ISO 9001:2000 certification for all of its business groups in Germany, France and the US. To date, only 10% of companies worldwide have been awarded this new ISO certification. The 2000 version explicitly integrates customer satisfaction as measure and demands continuous quality improvement.
Christopher joined Westinghouse Power Systems Division in 1973 as a Project Engineer and served in various management positions in Project Management, Engineering and Field Services. He was also General Manager, Nuclear Services Division, responsible for providing the field services engineering, training, and replacement parts utilities needed to help keep their nuclear plants running at maximum efficiency. He was the General Manager of this rapidly expanding division, or its subset Nuclear Services Integration Division, from 1983 until 1995.
a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1967 from the
U.S. Naval Academy and a Master of Science Degree in Engineering Mechanics
in 1968 from Georgia Tech.