The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provides electricity for 153 local power companies serving 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states, as well as directly to 57 large industrial customers and federal installations.
Located on 840 acres beside Wheeler Reservoir near Athens, Alabama, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant is one of the most powerful in TVA’s generating portfolio. When the plant opened in 1974, its three boiling-water reactors were the first in the world capable of producing more than 1,000 megawatts—or 1 billion watts of power.
Today, Browns Ferry now has a total generating capacity of more than 3.4 gigawatts, making it the second biggest nuclear power plant in America behind only the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona.
Upgrading Browns Ferry
Browns Ferry has three boiling water nuclear reactors. Each reactor has 764 fuel bundles, a third of which are replaced every two years.
In March 2021, TVA initiated a scheduled, seven-week refueling and maintenance outage of all three turbines in its Unit 2 reactor, which had generated more than 19 billion kilowatt-hours of carbon-free electricity over 654 days of reliable operation. This outage included the largest scope of turbine deck work since Browns Ferry’s original construction.
As part of the upgrade and maintenance project, TVA needed to perform major repairs to reactor components, install 320 new fuel assemblies, and restore, modify, and test other plant equipment and key safety systems.
Mobilizing within 24 hours
To perform the upgrade, TVA enlisted the support of multiple companies and more than 500 extra TVA contractors and employees to ensure the project remained on schedule and outage downtime was minimized.
During the planned project, TVA encountered emergent emergency work that required additional on-site machining support. Nine 30” nozzles needed to be bored, yet the nuclear environment introduced unique requirements and restrictions.
On a Sunday, TVA contacted three machining companies with the project scope and mobilization request. Tri Tool was the only company with technicians on-site the very next day.
Modifying on the fly
Through Tri Tool’s rapid mobilization plan, Tri Tool Field Services were on-site with specialized equipment within 24 hours. Due to the tight tolerances, environment restrictions, and machining requirements, none of the three companies had equipment that could fit the project specifications. However, Tri Tool was the only company that modified the equipment on-site and was able to complete eight out of the nine nozzle bores. The ninth nozzle had been machined incorrectly by another company, preventing Tri Tool from competing the bore.
Due to Tri Tool’s performance, efficiency, and capability, TVA had Tri Tool bore three additional 12” nozzles and added a small two-day project where Tri Tool cut a 64” diameter heater in half so that the shell could be removed for repairs.
“The post-project review of this scope really showed us how our location in Soddy Daisy and location of personnel were key to the quick mobilization. Once mobilized, the team’s ability to think outside the box and provide solutions was pivotal to delivering customer success,” says Sara Henson, Vice President of Field Services at Tri Tool.
Keeping the lights on
In April 2021, TVA announced the successful completion of its Browns Ferry upgrade. The new equipment and related steam piping and bellows in the Unit 2 reactor will help boost electricity output by 7 megawatts, or enough to supply power to an additional 4,000 homes.
The Browns Ferry upgrade project demonstrates Tri Tool’s ability to rapidly mobilize anywhere in the United States and throughout the world. The Field Services team was on-site within 24 hours and had the experience and expertise to modify existing equipment to fit the exact parameters and specifications of the project.
At Tri Tool, we understand urgency and excel in the unexpected. For over 45 years, we have partnered with the country’s largest power producers to provide specialty power plant maintenance and industrial outage services under increasingly shorter timelines, tighter tolerances, and harsher operating conditions. With top-quality equipment and a national network of highly skilled technicians, we are always available to help you get the job done faster, saving you time and money.
Learn more about how Tri Tool Field Services and precision machining solutions can improve power generation availability, performance, and profitability here.
About Tri Tool
Tri Tool is a global leader in the design and manufacture of custom MissionBuilt™ engineered solutions and high-performance PurposeBuilt™ precision machine tools for major industrial markets, including aerospace, government and defense, life sciences, power generation, oil and gas, and semiconductor. For over 49 years, we have partnered with the world’s top companies, providing state-of-the-art equipment, Field Services, and Rental Programs that increase productivity, optimize costs, and accelerate delivery. Unconventional innovation with extreme agility and proven results—that’s our thing, solving your toughest challenges, anywhere, in record time.
Our staff and engineers are on the ready. Let Tri Tool get to work.