Nuclear energy rides the 'shake table' for earthquake safety

US nuclear power plants are designed and built to stringent seismic standards based on the surrounding region. To test against earthquakes, nuclear companies use special 'shake tables' to simulate the powerful earthquake ground movement.

Bucking the challenge at up to 20g’s, the nuclear components from U.S. utilities strive to survive the gyrations of AREVA’s 7-ton seismic shake table.

The centrepiece of AREVA’s Seismic/Vibration Lab, the 10′ x 10′ electro-hydraulic multi-axial 7-ton shake table is capable of testing nuclear components weighing up to 10 tons at a maximum of 100 Hz with peak acceleration from 5- to 20-g, dependent on the item’s mass.

As seen in this video showing two test blocks (total mass ~10,000 lbs.) riding the shake table, AREVA’s component testing can include the powerful earthquake ground movement of greatest concern to utilities, regulators, and communities.   

The Seismic/Vibration Lab is just one section of AREVA’s U.S. Technical Center located in the AREVA Solutions Complex, one of the largest collection of nuclear testing and service offerings for commercial grade dedication (CGD) and innovative testing capabilities in the United States.

As noted by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI),

“All nuclear power plants in the United States are designed and built to stringent seismic standards appropriate for the region in which they are located. Earthquake safety standards are more stringent for nuclear energy facilities than for any other type of infrastructure.

The nuclear energy industry continues to take steps to enhance the safety of America’s reactors. As part of the response to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s post-Fukushima requirements, companies that operate nuclear energy facilities are re-evaluating the earthquake potential at their sites using the latest data and methodologies.”

Surviving the bull ride atop AREVA’s shake table is one way to test safety-related components, and help U.S. nuclear power facilities remain a safe, reliable, and bountiful clean energy source of electricity to power America’s industry, hospitals, and homes.


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