Modularisation of nuclear new builds

Article by Neil Clark

A NEW R&D centre aiming to develop modular manufacturing in the UK’s nuclear energy sector has been opened by the UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC).

The £0.5m (US$0.65m) facility is hosted by shipbuilder Cammell Laird at Birkenhead, Merseyside. According to NAMRC, it is the first of a new network of regional supply chain hubs to support the UK’s nuclear new build programme.

Modular manufacturing is often used in shipbuilding and aerospace, and involves off-site assembly of large-scale systems, which are then taken to the project’s eventual site for installation. Small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) are considered to offer significant benefits to the UK’s future energy mix, and Rolls Royce is taking a leading role in partnerships to develop the novel technology, estimated to create 40,000 jobs and open a £400bn export market.

NAMRC managing director, Andrew Storer said: “Modularisation reduces risk in manufacturing and construction, and will help developers build new power stations on schedule and on budget, meeting our national targets for secure, cost-effective, low-carbon electricity generation.”

The Financial Times has reported that the approach could reduce power station costs by up to 30%. It was also revealed that Cammell Laird is already in discussions with Hitachi, EDF and other nuclear plant developers looking to build in the UK.

The new facility has 1,000 m2 of workshop space, and will address modular manufacturing for new reactors of all sizes, as well as the challenges of decommissioning and waste management.

Storer added: “The manufacturing techniques we will develop at the new facility can also help improve production efficiency and costs in other parts of the nuclear market, for example, in the manufacture of large numbers of standardised waste boxes for the decommissioning programme.”

Around 4,000 large metal boxes are required to store waste from the nuclear decommissioning programme based at Sellafield, also situated in the North-East of England.

Article by Neil Clark

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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