UK looks to nuclear manufacturing future

18 June 2013

Work has begun on two collaborative research programs to develop new forging and casting techniques for nuclear components, while UK manufacturers are invited to apply for funding to help them compete in the nuclear industry.

Forgemasters TSB funding (Iamge: SFIL)_460
Representatives from Sheffield Forgemasters, the Technology Strategy Board and industrial and academic collaborators launch the program (Image: Sheffield Forgemasters)

The first project sees heavy forging specialist Sheffield Forgemasters working in partnership with the University of Sheffield and independent research and technology group TWI to create efficient casting solutions for reactor coolant systems. In the second project, Forgemasters will work in partnership with the University of Sheffield, Rolls Royce and diagnostics specialist Mermec UK to develop hot metrology, non-destructive testing and computer modelling techniques to enhance the manufacture of ultra-large forgings for nuclear power plants.

Both projects are being led by Forgemasters' R&D division, Sheffield Forgemasters RD26 Ltd. Its director, Jesus Talamantes-Silva, said that the outcomes of the projects would influence the design and manufacturing processes for the civil nuclear power sector as well as helping the UK develop its nuclear supply chain. Some of the company's forging and casting manufacturing techniques have not to date been matched by any other civil nuclear engineering companies, Talamantes-Silva noted. "This funding positions RD26 Ltd to capitalise on an opportunity to make developmental leaps for the sector," he said.

The projects are part-funded by £2.15 million ($3.35 million) of grants from the UK's Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. They are amongst 35 nuclear R&D projects to share in £18 million ($27 million) of support announced in parallel with the UK government's publication of its nuclear industrial strategy in March.

Applications invited

Meanwhile, UK manufacturing companies have been invited to apply to join a £76 million ($118 million) support program to help them to compete for nuclear industry work.

The Sharing in Growth program, led by the Sheffield-based Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) with support from industry including Rolls Royce, is partly funded by the UK government. Successful applicants will join a four-year program of business development and training tailored to their own needs, worth around £1 million ($1.6 million) per project.

NAMRC program director Keith Ridgway said the program would enable the NAMRC and its partners to work with the most promising suppliers to prepare them to compete in the global nuclear industry. "I would encourage any manufacturer who is serious about the sector to apply," he said.

 Researched and written
by World Nuclear News