Friday, March 4, 2016

News: Nuclear AMRC to work with Westinghouse

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As progress continues to be slow with the next generation of large scale civic nuclear power stations, the Nuclear AMRC has announced that it is to work with Westinghouse Electric Company to explore the most effective way to manufacture reactor pressure vessels for Westinghouse's small modular reactor (SMR) in the UK.

With state of the art facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative with industry, The University of Sheffield and The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute, and is designed to help build and enhance the UK's civil nuclear new build industry.


Based in Pennyslvania and now owned by Toshiba, Westinghouse bid to partner with the UK Government to deploy its SMR technology last year – a move that would advance the UK from buyer to global provider of the latest nuclear energy technology. Westinghouse's Preston facility employs over 1,000 people and recently achieved the requirements necessary to manufacture Westinghouse SMR fuel in the UK, something that no other SMR technology provider currently offers.

The manufacturing study will focus on reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) – one of the largest and most demanding parts of any reactor. The Nuclear AMRC will provide a professional, independent assessment of the current Westinghouse design, and determine an optimal manufacturing solution. Nuclear AMRC has extensive experience in design for the manufacture of large complex parts for safety-critical applications, drawing on broad academic and industry knowledge.

Mike Tynan, chief executive officer at The Nuclear AMRC (and previously chief executive of Westinghouse UK), said: "Innovative and advanced manufacturing techniques are fundamental to the cost-effective production of UK small modular reactors."

A key component of the manufacturing study will be identifying efficiencies within the advanced manufacturing process to significantly reduce capital costs and drive project savings. These savings, coupled with the UK's strong nuclear supply chain and Westinghouse's commitment to SMR technology, would promote economic growth and job creation in the UK's nuclear industry. The study will utilise expert knowledge of local manufacturing capabilities to identify potential suppliers for when the Westinghouse SMR enters production.

Jeff Benjamin, senior vice president for new plants and major projects at Westinghouse, said: "The Westinghouse small modular reactor is innovative and industry-leading technology that builds upon our extensive reactor and fuel technology expertise. The efficient construction of Westinghouse small modular reactors can play an important part of the UK's future by creating local manufacturing jobs to develop safe, clean and economical energy."

In the Autumn spending review, George Osborne announced new funding to develop SMRs in the UK. The Nuclear AMRC is working with the principal technology vendors in support of their drive for a UK small modular reactor and with companies across the UK to help them seize existing opportunities and be ready for the potential of technologies such as SMRs.

SMRs promise to be much more affordable in the UK than the large scale reactors planned for projects like Hinkley Point C, which has struggled to secure investors and has strike prices inflated by the expense of financing the multi billion pound project.

Tynan has previously explained that: "Because SMRs will be built in relatively high volumes in factory conditions, there are a number of very practical steps that would significantly reduce their capital cost. These include modular construction of the reactor unit; modularisation of concrete infrastructure; design for manufacturing; and the use of advanced production processes such as electron beam welding and hot isostatic pressing.

He believes that significantly reducing SMR production costs is eminently achievable and added that it will be equally important for UK companies to deliver indigenous intellectual property on SMRs to achieve the best economic value for the UK.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Westinghouse

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