Forgemasters gains foothold in US market

25 November 2008

Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL) of the UK has received its first order from the US nuclear power market, thanks to a stainless steel reactor coolant pump casing originally created for China.

Sheffield Forgemasters - casing 
One of the pump casings produced by Forgemasters (Image: SFIL)
The order is an extension to a current contract from Curtiss Wright EMD to supply pump casings for Westinghouse AP1000 reactors proposed for Progress Energy's Harris site in North Carolina and South Carolina Electric and Gas' (SCE&G's) VC Summer site in South Carolina.

Forgemasters worked with pump designer Curtiss Wright in the details of the development of the casing and has now been commissioned by the company to produce 16 of the stage-one pump casings to service Westinghouse's first AP1000 plants in the USA.

Curtiss Wright first commissioned SFIL to produce 18 of the pump casings for AP1000 units to be constructed at Sanmen and Haiyang in China. Production of the casings for the US units is estimated to begin in 2010, following the manufacture of those for the Chinese plants. The 16-tonne pump castings will be manufactured at SFIL's Brightside Lane foundry in Sheffield.

Shaun Gray, senior sales manager at SFIL's Engineering division, said: These pumps are structurally integral to the reactor and have many stresses placed on them aside from those created by pumping pressurized coolant at a rate of 65 to 95 thousand gallons per minute."

Gray commented, "The success of the cast casings for Westinghouse AP1000 power plants has enabled SFIL to enter the key USA civil nuclear market for the first time." He added, "This is just the starting point of the nuclear renaissance in both North America and the western world."

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at SFIL, said: "The work of SFIL's Engineering team in conjunction with Curtiss Wright EMD has produced a component that will be used on all AP1000 plants worldwide and taking our first contract to supply components to the US civil nuclear market is a great accolade for Forgemasters."

Expanding capabilities

Sheffield Forgemasters is considering the addition of a 15,000 tonne press, which would allow it to accept 500 tonne steel ingots. The machine, 50% more powerful than its largest existing press, would allow it to make reactor pressure vessels for reactors up to and including Areva's 1650 MWe EPR, the largest PWR currently on the market.

According to a report in the Financial Times, the UK government is nearing a decision on whether to give Forgemasters a financial package of up to £30 million ($45 million) to enable the company to purchase the 15,000 tonne press. The total cost of the project is put at some £140 million ($210 million). The press would take up to a year to design and a further two to three years to construct.

Honeyman said, "At present there are only two or three companies in the world capable of making components for nuclear reactors of the type we are discussing. This is an exciting project which would give a big boost to the whole of the UK's capability in nuclear engineering."

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