Chepetsk Mechanical Factory (Glazov, Udmurtiya, Russia) is the biggest Russian manufacturer of pipes from zirconium alloys for fuel elements of nuclear reactors. The main requirement for nuclear fuel element materials is the purity. In order to provide the needed quality, the unique production of reactor-purity zirconium by electrolysis of melted salts has been established at Chepetsk Mechanical Factory. The electrolysis process requires strict monitoring of the technological process, which can be ensured only by means of a modern control system.
The zirconium electrolysis control system has been developed by the engineers from Chepetsk Mechanical Factory using PC-based controllers by Octagon Systems (USA), industrial PCs by Advantech and the integrated SCADA and SOFTLOGIC-system TRACE MODE by AdAstra Research Group. It is interesting, that TRACE MODE has been used both on operator PC (SCADA/HMI) and in controllers (SOFTLOGIC). The development of the whole project has been carried out within a single development system according to the through programming technology.
As a results of implementation of the control system:
- melt temperature fluctuations have been reduced by 5 times;
- electrolyte chemical composition fluctuations have been reduced by 3 times;
- argon consumption has been reduced by 1.5 - 2 times;
With the control system costs in the amount of 2. 43 million US dollars, the process parameter stabilization has allowed to gain the total economy for 1999-2003 in the amount of 2.5 million US dollars. The actual payback period for a control system of each electrolyzer series has been equal to 1 - 1.5 years. An important role in reaching a high control system effectiveness has been played by control algorithms developed by specialists from Chepetsk Mechanical Factory and implemented in SCADA TRACE MODE software.
The SCADA & SOFTLOGIC TRACE MODE based control system has shown a high reliability. The system availability factor and the use factor have been equal to 0.984 and 0.978 respectively.
The experience gained during the use of the zirconium electrolysis control system based on the integrated SCADA/HMI and Softlogic software TRACE MODE has once again proved the effectiveness and reliability of PC-based control system.
Based on the article by V.P. Baklanov et al. "Experience of development of a control and monitoring system for the process of electrolytic production of zirconium using a Trace Mode development package. Industrial control systems and controllers, 6, 2004, p. 13-15.