Small parts can have a big impact. This is especially true when it comes to nuclear energy. Plant constructors and operators alike must take every action possible to support safety and viability of nuclear reactors.
This logic applies to all component selection in nuclear power. Durable, high-quality materials must be used to minimize degradation and maintenance – even for the smallest parts.
One example: electrical penetrations in the containment structure can be sealed with polymers.
However, polymer-based seals are made of organic material. They can wear down from aging and require replacement in as little as 10-20 years. This type of maintenance and upkeep can necessitate plant shutdowns, costing upwards of $1.3 million per day.