BELGATECH, Belgian engineering consultancy firm, is active in various sectors including energy. Our Consultants support our Clients by providing them with advice and technical support on all phases of their projects, by intervening directly on site.
Maxime F., Consultant at BELGATECH is currently on assignment at the Tihange Nuclear Power Plant, built in the 1970s in Huy, along the right bank of the Meuse. The site includes 3 nuclear reactors containing pressurized water (called PWR nuclear reactors), which accumulate a power of 3,008 MW. The Tihange power station represents around a quarter of total electricity production in Belgium.
What is your mission?
The main challenge is to guarantee the safety of the installations. More specifically, my mission consists of initiating requests for the purchase of parts and equipment for the cooling circuits and plant infrastructures. I specify to suppliers the technical and quality assurance requirements applicable according to the equipment and the essential variables that define it. This is in accordance with the regulations, codes and standards in force.
I then follow up the order and make sure that these pre-defined prescriptions are respected, that the operations are properly traceable and that the material is properly handled.
Finally I receive the order for inspection of the ordered product, its technical file, and the adequacy between the two. Corrective actions are taken if necessary.
What does nuclear energy represent for an engineer?
Regarding nuclear power and the subatomic control of matter, this field is in my opinion the very essence of the domain of energy and engineering. This is still a promising area in terms of progress given the fusion projects in prospect, the replacement of fission. In addition, the characteristic of man and animal, which he is among the other mammals of the planet, since his existence, is to exploit his environment to meet his needs and improve his comfort. He cultivates the land, raises livestock for food and draws from its environment the thermal, mechanical, and electrical energy necessary for its applications. Nuclear power, its discovery and its mastery, is part of one of the solutions developed to do this. This feat is in my opinion to energy what the first step on the moon is to astronomy. The discovery of radioactivity is commendable in the same way as the discovery of fire a few thousand years earlier.
What is your opinion on the often controversial debate about nuclear energy?
From an ecological point of view, it seems that this process is very controversial for various reasons. I find it laughable in view of the current context where the quality of our atmosphere is increasingly degraded while the power plants only release water into our air. As far as waste and processes are concerned, it is true that they must be safely controlled. If they are, there is no danger of contamination. At the same time, aircraft are also dangerous if they are poorly maintained but there is no question of abolishing aviation and reverting to zeppelins after a crash. Consequently, I find the idea of abandoning nuclear power and replacing it with wind turbines or conventional power stations (much less efficient devices) regressive.