Thursday, October 13, 2016

News: Nuclear AMRC at the heart of SMR development

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The Nuclear AMRC is continuing to work with Westinghouse Electric Company to reduce build lead times for the US group's small modular reactor (SMR).

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.

The Government has pledged funds to develop SMRs in the UK and 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.

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.

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.

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Nuclear AMRC engineers are working with Westinghouse and modular construction specialists from Cammell Laird on a new advanced manufacturing study. The study will explore potential design efficiencies which can reduce costs to customers while promoting growth in manufacturing within the UK. It follows an earlier study by the Nuclear AMRC for Westinghouse that showed that the UK has the advanced manufacturing capabilities to effectively manufacture critical systems for SMRs.

Jeff Benjamin, senior vice president for new plants and major projects at Westinghouse, said: "The Westinghouse SMR is an innovative, industry-leading technology that builds upon the company's extensive reactor and fuel technology expertise.

"The Nuclear AMRC has broad experience in design for the manufacture of large, complex parts for safety-critical applications, and its support will help to increase the efficiency of our design, while building on our specialised UK value proposition."

The new study will focus on how the SMR design can allow for greater production efficiency through modular assembly techniques.

Mike Tynan, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC, said: "Greater R&D focus on technologies surrounding SMR manufacture will reduce the risk, minimise the lead times, while significantly optimising cost and quality delivery performance. Design for assembly is one such area of interest which has the potential to significantly reduce construction costs and time, by minimising the amount of labour required on site."

Rolls-Royce, which has outline planning approval for a Rotherham facility to manufacture civil nuclear components, is also in the Government competition for the best value SMR design. The Nuclear AMRC have been working in partnership with its Tier One member as the lead company for the UK nuclear supply chain.

Earlier this year, NuScale Power, an American company pioneering small scale nuclear reactors, announced a new partnership with Sheffield Forgemasters to develop manufacturing techniques for SMRs. Forgemasters is a founder member of the Nuclear AMRC and NuScale signed an agreement to work with the centre in 2014.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC / Westinghouse


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