Wednesday, April 15, 2015

News: Nuclear AMRC leads new European research


The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) in Rotherham is leading two new European research projects to develop advanced manufacturing technologies for the civil nuclear industry.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative between the University of Sheffield, The University of Manchester, and a consortium of industry partners. It provides a focal point for the bulk of the UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry supply chain, ensuring that manufacturers in the UK have the capability and capacity required to compete for nuclear new build in the UK and globally, from skills training to research and development.

The projects will develop machining techniques to reduce the risk of component failure over a reactor's lifetime, and investigate processes to create high-integrity reactor components from metal powder.

In a €350,000 project called McScamp (minimising nuclear component stress corrosion cracking through advanced machining parameters), the Nuclear AMRC will work with French reactor developer Areva and machining specialists at the Estonian University of Life Sciences' Institute of Technology to improve the surface integrity and extend the life of machined steel components.

Reactor components including internal parts, pumps, tubes and piping have to operate in extreme conditions for 60 years or more. Their useful life can be shortened by a phenomenon called stress corrosion cracking, which becomes more likely if residual stresses and surface hardening are created in the component during its manufacture.

The McScamp team will develop a deeper understanding of the factors which cause these conditions in nuclear steels, and investigate advanced machining techniques such as dry machining and cryogenic cooling which can significantly improve surface integrity.

The second project, PowderWay, will investigate powder metallurgy techniques for nuclear components.

Processes such as hot isostatic pressing, additive manufacturing and spark plasma sintering can be used to create high-integrity, near-net shape parts from metal powder, avoiding the need to machine parts down from solid billets. Some of these techniques are already used in industries such as aerospace, but are not yet qualified and approved for civil nuclear applications.

The Nuclear AMRC will manage the industry-led project to assess the potential for these processes in the civil nuclear sector, and establish a strategy to move the most promising techniques into commercial production.

Partners in the €360,000, 18-month project include Areva, EDF's research laboratory, French nuclear suppliers group PNB, French energy commission CEA, and Swedish materials research group Swerea.

Alan McLelland, projects director at the Nuclear AMRC, said: "These two projects will apply cutting-edge machining and materials technologies to the civil nuclear industry, to drive up quality and lifetime performance for reactor operators, and help European manufacturers take a global lead in the sector. We are delighted to be working with some of Europe's leading nuclear companies and research institutes to bring applied innovation to nuclear manufacturing."

McScamp and PowderWay are funded (pending due diligence) by the Nugenia nuclear industry association, with support from the European Commission's framework programme for collaborative R&D.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC


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