Mr. François Cattant
Structural Material Degradation
Mr. François Cattant graduated in chemical engineering in 1974 and joined Electricity of France (EDF) in 1975 as chemist engineer at the chemical department of the corporate laboratories (Plants Operation Division). At that time, he was involved in power plants water and steam conditioning. Up to 1995 he worked in the following technical fields as an expert: Failure root cause analysis of gas-cooled reactors components, including fuel Water & steam chemistry, chemical cleaning and NDE for fossil fired stations Failure root cause analysis of nuclear power plants irradiated or contaminated parts & components and reactor pressure vessel (RPV) irradiation programs monitoring Examination of Dampierre 1 retired steam generator, to the examination of RPV head penetrations, to the study of thermal embrittlement, to the analysis of wear.
How did you get started as an engineer?
I graduated in chemical engineering in 1974. After one year in the Air Force (the military service was compulsory at that time in France!), I joined Electricity of France (EDF) in 1975 as chemist engineer in the chemical department of the corporate laboratories (Plants Operation Division).
Your career history?
My first job was related to water and steam conditioning, including chemical cleaning, of fossil fired power stations. However, this first job lasted only 8 months as in June 1976 I moved to the hot laboratory department, located at the Chinon nuclear power plant, as metallurgical section deputy manager. My new area of expertise was examining failures and do root cause analysis of gas-cooled reactors components, including fuel.
A few years later, in 1980, I moved to the northern part of France, as manager of the regional chemistry and non-destructive examination (NDE) section. I somehow stepped back to my first job as again being involved in water & steam chemistry, chemical cleaning and NDE for fossil fired stations.
Three years later, in 1983, I returned to the Chinon hot laboratory, as metallurgical and mechanical testing section manager where I continued to focus on failure root cause analysis of nuclear power plants irradiated or contaminated parts & components and Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) irradiation programs monitoring. I was especially involved in the analysis of steam generator tubes, control rod drive mechanisms guide tubes pins, pressurizer nozzles, valves, reactor cooling system cast elbows, piping, fuel bundle & rods, rod cluster control assemblies and much more.
In 1987, I was promoted to hot laboratory deputy manager and in 1991 promoted again as hot laboratory technical manager. In addition, my area of expertise extended to the examination of Dampierre 1 retired steam generator, to the examination of reactor pressure vessel head penetrations, to the study of thermal embrittlement, to the analysis of wear. Between 1995 and 1998 I made a break in my career in France as I was assigned as an expatriate engineer to the Nuclear Maintenance Application Center of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI Charlotte, NC, USA). I worked there on nuclear plant maintenance issues. While at EPRI, I also participated as an outside expert on the examination of Ringhals 3 retired steam generator.
Returning back in France in 1998, I joined the R&D Materials and Mechanics of Components Department as scientific advisor and senior engineer. My work involved chemistry, corrosion, and metallurgy, with special attention to primary water chemistry, source term reduction, primary water corrosion, corrosion mitigation and repair, fuel cleaning and innovation strategy. I continued to serve as the EDF representative to the EPRI’s Materials Reliability program. In this capacity, I participated in several destructive examinations such as North Anna 2 RPV head penetrations, South Texas Project 1 Bottom Mounted Instrumentation, Braidwood 1 pressurizer heater #52 and San Onofre 3 CEDM #64.
From 2004 to 2008, I was the President of the “Materials, Non- Destructive Testing and Chemistry” section of the “French Nuclear Energy Society” and from 2008 to 2009 I was in charge of the International Partnerships of the Materials Ageing Institute (MAI).
During my career, I made many presentations and papers in international conferences and Scientific’s journals. Subsequent to my retirement from EDF in 2009, I was commissioned by the Materials Ageing Institute to collect details and produce summaries of destructive examinations performed on failures in light water reactor components in France, USA, Japan and Sweden. These extended summaries have been compiled in a unique “Handbook of Destructive Assays”, a 1200 pages book which was published in February 2014.
How did you get introduced to the ANT International LCC Programme?
I was introduced to ANT International by Peter Scott with whom I’ve been in contact for many years when he was a former Areva employee. Peter is a very active member of the experts’ team at ANT.
How has the field of nuclear materials of the Nuclear Steam Supply Systems changed during your career?
Except the 15% chromium alloys such as Alloys 600 and 182, the NSSSs’ materials have behaved pretty well in the past. In terms of materials replacements, the big move has been replacing these 15% chromium alloys with 30% chromium alloys which are much more corrosion resistant. However, nickel base alloys are not the only class of materials having experienced field failures; there have been many stainless steels (austenitic and martensitic) failures too. The reason is not that stainless steels are inappropriate for nuclear reactors usage but rather because they have been exposed to conditions or situations which were not anticipated. A couple of examples are fatigue failure and corrosion in polluted environments. Fortunately, over the years, many materials issues have been solved. However, with plant ageing and life extension programs, we may have to face with new materials challenges down the road.
What do you foresee the future of the nuclear industry and how does the LCC Programme fit in?
This is a one million dollars question. I think the world nuclear community can be split into two categories. The first category contains the countries where the future of the nuclear industry is governed by technical issues and economical aspects; in these countries the nuclear industry has a rather fine perspective. The second category is composed of countries where the polls have a major impact on the fate of the nuclear industry. Most European countries fall in the second bin, the bin for which anticipating the future of the nuclear industry is a real challenge. However, there are many nuclear reactors operating in Europe and some may still operate for many years, thus room still exists for initiatives such as LCC programs.
How do you spend your leisure time?
By leisure time, I figure out when I’m not working for ANT International!
First, my property is very old: built around year 1500. It has been refurbished in 1982 and before that was a farm. So, as you can imagine, I’m very busy maintaining and improving it. I like also gardening, growing vegetables in summer. Second, I take advantage of living a few kilometers from the shore (Atlantic ocean) to have a cruiser boat and sail as much as the weather allows me, and you know, Brittany is not the Caribbean’s!
Third, I bought a couple of years ago a vintage sport car. This car, made in 1977, requires a lot of attention and I had to develop some skills in mechanics and electricity to take care of it.
Note that since January the 8th (2014), I’m a grandfather and this could add another line to this series of hobbies.