Friday, November 9, 2018

News: Nuclear AMRC showcase innovative SMR work

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Experts from the Nuclear AMRC continue to showcase how small modular reactors (SMRs) can be built using British innovation.

SMRs promise to be much more affordable in the UK than the large scale reactors. Just this week, Japanese firm, Toshiba announced it was winding up its UK nuclear business due to "additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen" - initially a joint venture which planned to build up to 3.6GWe of new nuclear capacity at a site in West Cumbria.

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.

This week around 200 industry experts attended the UK's first government-backed conference to explore the investment opportunities of SMRs and the Nuclear AMRC highlighted its prototype SMR parts produced as part of collaborative research with Sheffield Forgemasters and international partners.

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.

Speakers at the conference included Nuclear AMRC programme director Jay Shaw, who presented alongside Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) director Neil Rawlinson on how manufacturing innovation can be best applied to the small reactor market.

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The event included a showcase of relevant manufacturing technologies, including prototype pressure vessel sections produced by the Nuclear AMRC as part of a collaborative project with the US Electric Power Research Institite.

The aim is to reduce production time for a SMR pressure vessel and parts on show included a pressure vessel section joined by electron beam welding in two hours, compared to some ten days using conventional submerged arc welding techniques; and a pressure vessel head partially clad using advanced diode laser technology.

Andrew Storer, CEO at the Nuclear AMRC (pictured right), said: "The advanced manufacturing technologies we're developing at the Nuclear AMRC will play a vital role in ensuring that new reactor designs are manufactured to cost and schedule, enabling the UK to take a global lead in commercialising small reactors, with huge opportunities for companies across the country.

"We're already working with around 1,000 manufacturers across the UK to help them compete in the worldwide nuclear sector, and we welcome the Government's continuing support for the new generation of clean affordable power."

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At the end of October, business secretary Greg Clark MP visited the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham to see the centre's work in supporting the next generation of nuclear power and delivering the nuclear sector deal.

Clark saw a range of advanced machining, joining and robotic technologies which can significantly increase productivity in the manufacture of a new generation of small and advanced modular reactors.

The MP (pictured centre) said: "This cutting-edge facility in Sheffield is pioneering innovative nuclear technology of the future, as the UK continues to seize the opportunities of moving to a greener, cleaner economy through our modern industrial strategy.

"The UK was the first domestic nuclear power country in the world and this government commissioned the first new nuclear power station in over a generation. The development of small modular reactors as part of our landmark £200m nuclear sector deal could unlock more jobs and more local growth."

The Government's £32m advanced manufacturing and construction programme, which will aim to kickstart the supply chain for small nuclear projects, will be launched before the end of the year.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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