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Clean Energy & NDE

June 30, 2010

Hi. I’m James. This is my first endeavor into this crazy world they call the “Blogosphere”. I hope it’s much less awkward for you to read than it is for me to write! First, maybe a little about me… I’m a frustrated sports broadcaster living a dream as a Welding Engineer. Prior to coming to EWI, I worked at Honda for ten years. At EWI, I am an Engineering Team Leader currently leading three groups – the Resistance & Solid-State Welding group, the Non-Destructive Evaluation group, and the Friction Stir Welding group. Between the three groups, I have the fortune of working with 15 of the brightest and best experts in their respective technical disciplines.

So Blogs are supposed to have a topic. For my first set of Blog entries, I want to start with a topic for which I have a great passion – alternative energy. No, I’m not just saying that because EWI is home to two centers that relate to the topic (see http://ewienergycenter.com or http://nuclearfabrication.org ). I’m saying it because it’s a big concern for me – for my children’s future.

Depending on Google’s mood, the articles you find will estimate fossil fuel reserves will be exhausted in 50 – 250 years. Nice range, huh? The key, and something most everyone agrees on, is that the further we advance into the future, the more difficult (and costly – and dangerous – and impactful to the environment) it becomes to extract the fuels. Clearly there is the potential for my children (currently aged 8 and 6) to see a time when fossil fuels are gone. How will their lives adapt? What sacrifices will they have to make to survive? What can I do now to help improve their future?

Something that makes me feel a little better about the future is the work our NDE group is doing in support of the EWI Nuclear Fabrication Consortium. Currently, the fabrication, in-service inspection, and repair of nuclear power plants are governed by ASME Sections 3, 5, and 11 – where section 5 is the general non-destructive testing techniques. The issue is that the different sections of the specification are not consistent. For example, Section 3 (related to new fabrication) controls the manufacturing of a product to be used in a nuclear power plant application. It may require radiography to confirm quality. The part then may pass inspection, and move to the worksite, where it goes through a pre-service inspection, which is governed by Section 11. Section 11 may require ultrasonic inspection, which may be sensitive to different discontinuities. In this inspection, they could identify a defect that was present at the time of manufacture, but not detected due to inspection requirements. The bottom line is, the code is confusing and cumbersome to navigate. EWI is working to identify these areas of inconsistency, and to bring them to the attention of the appropriate parties so they can be addressed.

So how does this help clean energy?! The typical time for construction of nuclear energy facility is in excess of four years. A big chunk of that time is dealing with complex codes, specifications, and issues just like this!

Look, I would never label myself as an “environmentalist”. I am, however, passionate about not screwing up the planet (anymore than we already have) for my kids – for all of the generations to come. I am proud that EWI is playing a small part in helping make that a reality. For more information, check out the links below to see how EWI is active in energy matters, as well as some of interesting links for energy saving tips and tricks.