Sheffield Forgemasters to supply Rolls-Royce SMR forgings

06 December 2021

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Rolls-Royce SMR Limited and Sheffield Forgemasters to jointly explore commercial mechanisms for a long-term collaboration on the supply of forgings to the Rolls-Royce UK small modular reactor (SMR) fleet. A Rolls-Royce-led UK SMR consortium aims to build up to 10 SMRs by 2035.

A rendering of a plant based on the Rolls-Royce SMR (Image: Rolls-Royce)

The MoU was signed at the Nuclear Industry Association's Nuclear2021 conference in London last week. It follows the creation of Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd, which has been established to bring forward and deliver the next generation of low-cost, low-carbon nuclear power technology.

Rolls-Royce said the project "directly supports the UK's civil nuclear renaissance and the development of SMRs in the UK, with Sheffield Forgemasters able to supply the complex, nuclear-grade demonstrator forgings as part of the regulatory process."

"Sheffield Forgemasters are world leaders in complex, safety-critical forgings and castings and we are incredibly fortunate to have their experience to support and enable our SMR programme," said Rolls-Royce SMR CEO Tom Samson. "This agreement is the start of an enduring partnership and reflects our commitment to the UK supply chain as we look to re-build and re-energise the vital UK nuclear supply chain."

Sheffield Forgemasters CEO David Bond added: "SMRs have the potential to become the standard for civil nuclear power generation and, as an emerging market, fit extremely well with our long track record of supplying nuclear power components into the UK submarine programme.

"With a new investment fund of GBP400 million (USD530 million) to replace our defence critical assets, including the provision of a new 13,000 tonne forging line and 19 state-of-the-art machining centres, we will create much higher levels of manufacturing capability and efficiency, to the benefit of defence nuclear work, but with obvious cross-benefits for civil nuclear activity, including SMRs.

"Rolls-Royce is advancing plans for factory assembled SMRs in the UK and Sheffield Forgemasters is well positioned to be a UK supply chain partner in the delivery of complex, finished and semi-finished nuclear-grade components into the SMR build programme."

According to Rolls-Royce, when fully operational the Rolls-Royce SMR programme will create 40,000 UK jobs primarily across the North and Midlands, where the majority of UK nuclear expertise is located, with the potential for GBP52 billion in economic benefits from export.

Last month, Rolls-Royce SMR issued a Notice of Intention to submit its 470 MWe SMR design for entry to the UK's Generic Design Assessment (GDA) regulatory process. The review of the SMR design - based on a small pressurised water reactor - will formally begin once the government has assessed the company's capability and capacity to successfully enter the GDA process.

A Rolls-Royce-led UK SMR consortium aims to build 16 SMRs. The consortium - which includes Assystem, Atkins, BAM Nuttall, Jacobs, Laing O'Rourke, National Nuclear Laboratory, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and TWI - aims to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 by 2035.

To minimise the construction phase of the programme, the UK SMR is fully modularised to enable the plant to be transported by road, rail or sea. Targeting a 500-day modular build, the consortium says this concept minimises the onsite time and effort required to construct and build the plant. About 80% of the plant's components will be sourced from the UK. The target cost for each station is GBP1.8 billion by the time five have been built, with further savings possible. The power stations will be built by the consortium, before being handed over to be operated by power generation companies.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News