Jacobs supports UK nuclear reactor development

Article by Amanda Jasi

JACOBS is going to provide “cutting-edge” technical support to two companies as they continue to develop nuclear power reactors backed by the UK Government.

In July 2020, the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced Phase 2 funding for three advanced modular reactor projects, including U-Battery and a lead-cooled fast reactor being developed by nuclear company Westinghouse Electric Company. Each project was awarded £10m (US$13.9m).

Jacobs’ nuclear laboratories in Warrington, UK will carry out research and development into the new technologies for advanced manufacturing qualification. This will be under contracts that Jacobs has with U-Battery Developments, a subsidiary established to advance U-Battery technology in the UK, and Westinghouse Electric Company.

U-Battery is a modular reactor being developed by nuclear services technology company Urenco. For the technology, Jacobs will deploy its expertise in high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor technology to lead concept design work on the reactor and primary systems, as well as control, instrumentation, and autonomous operation. Jacobs will also provide safety, environmental, and human factors analysis and support.

For Westinghouse’s reactor technology, Jacobs will carry out structural materials, corrosion, and mechanical testing, which are key technical issues for reactors that operate at temperatures above 500°C. To understand the impact on mechanical performance and identify suitable structural materials, Jacobs will create new experimental facilities to test static corrosion, creep, and fatigue with exposure to liquid lead at temperatures up to 800°C. Westinghouse will then conduct further studies.

BEIS is also funding Jacobs directly to develop innovative, technology-enabled mechanical testing methods to allow advanced manufacturing technologies and materials to be accredited for use in future reactor plants. This is expected to advance state-of-the-art methods by introducing non-contact capture and measurements systems, which could safely reduce the number of tests needed and time required for evaluation.

Clive White, Senior VP of Critical Missions Solutions International at Jacobs, commented: “Advanced nuclear technologies can provide low-cost electricity and more cost-effective hydrogen production, both of which will assist the UK’s transition to clean energy and a net zero carbon economy.

“BEIS is to be congratulated for its vision in encouraging innovation in nuclear reactor design, and we look forward to continuing our support for these efforts across a wide spectrum of research into materials performance and qualification, digital design and manufacturing techniques, and structural design codes and standards.”

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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