Abstract

Nuclear power plant cables were originally qualified for 40 year life and generally have not required specific test verification to assure service availability through the initial plant qualification period. However, license renewals to 60 and 80 years of operation require a cable aging management program that depends on some form of test and verification to assure fitness for service. Environmental stress (temperature, radiation, chemicals, water, and mechanical) varies dramatically within a nuclear power plant and, in some cases, cables have degraded and required repair or replacement before their qualified end-of-life period. In other cases, cable conditions have been mild and dependable cable performance confirmed to extend well beyond the initial qualified life. Most offline performance-based testing requires cables to be decoupled and de-energized for specially trained technicians to perform testing. These offline tests constitute an expensive operational burden that limits the economic viability of nuclear power plants. Although initial investment may be higher, new online test practices are emerging as options or complements to offline testing that avoid or minimize the regularly scheduled offline test burden. These online methods include electrical and fiber-optic partial discharge measurement, spread spectrum time or frequency domain reflectometry, distributed temperature profile measurements, and local interdigital capacitance measurement of insulation characteristics. Introduction of these methods must be supported by research to confirm efficacy plus either publicly financed or market driven investment to support the start-up expense of cost-effective instrumentation to monitor cable condition and assure reliable operation. This work summarizes various online cable assessment technologies plus introduces a new cable motor test bed to assess some of these technologies in a controlled test environment.

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