The Nuclear AMRC is leading a delegation of UK nuclear suppliers to meet key organisations in the South Korean decommissioning sector.
With 25 reactors producing a third of electricity, South Korea has long been a leader in nuclear energy. But with its first commercial reactor – Kori-1 – shutting down in 2017, South Korea is preparing to enter a new era of nuclear decommissioning.
With a wealth of decommissioning experience at home, the UK has the opportunity to support South Korea with its decommissioning and international new-build programmes. UK-Korean collaboration could be crucial to helping South Korea achieve its decommissioning goals in a safe and economic manner, and UK companies with experience in domestic decommissioning are well placed to help.
UK organisations and companies participating in the event include:
The UK’s biggest independent nuclear suppliers’ exhibition returns to Birchwood Park, the heart of the North-West nuclear cluster.
The Engineering & Technology Solutions Exhibition will feature exhibitors from along the nuclear supply chain, plus technology demonstrations, knowledge-sharing and technical presentations, and networking opportunities.
The event is organised by Nu-Tech Exhibitions & Events, with support from the Nuclear AMRC, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Nuclear Institute, Nuclear Industry Association, National Skills Academy for Nuclear, and TWI.
Last year’s event was attended by more than 500 nuclear professionals, with 75 exhibitors from along the supply chain.
The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has hosted its first major conference, to share the latest nuclear industry innovations with companies from across the UK.
The Nuclear Innovation UK conference took place at Sheffield’s historic Cutlers’ Hall over 2–3 July 2019, with around 275 delegates from across the UK and from international organisations.
Organised by the Nuclear AMRC – part of the UK’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult – in collaboration with the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and industry partners, the conference focused on research supported by the government-funded Nuclear Innovation Programme.
The Nuclear Innovation Programme is the UK’s first public investment in future nuclear fission for a generation. Closely linked to the Nuclear Sector Deal launched in June 2018, the programme funds research into advanced manufacturing and materials and supports the development of new designs of advanced reactor.
Andrew Storer, Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear AMRC, says: “With the UK committing to zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, nuclear power must play a major role in our national energy mix. We need to bring new designs of advanced nuclear power plant to the grid within the next 20 years, and the Nuclear Innovation Programme is developing the enabling solutions that will bring these new technologies to market.
“We are delighted to host this conference in Sheffield, and to welcome engineers and researchers from across the UK and beyond to discover the latest in world-leading nuclear innovation. More than ever, we need to innovate and to bring innovations together.”
Guest speakers at the conference included Dr Tim Stone, Chair of the Nuclear Industry Association; Allan Cook, Chair of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult; Professor Ian Chapman, Chief Executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority; Adriènne Kelbie, Chief Executive of the Office for Nuclear Regulation; plus leading figures from the Nuclear AMRC, NNL, and Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
The conference included a series of technical presentations covering research projects from all areas of the Nuclear Innovation Programme: advanced manufacturing and materials; advanced fuels and recycling; and reactor design and engineering.
The Nuclear AMRC is leading two of the advanced manufacturing projects, to develop new tools and techniques which could help halve the production time and cost for pressure vessels and other large components for new reactors.
The Simple project (Single Manufacturing Platform Environment) aims to integrate a range of machining, fabrication and inspection operations onto a single manufacturing platform. Doing more on one machine will reduce the need to move large components between work areas, helping ensure accuracy and quality control throughout the manufacturing process. The 18-month first phase has involved Nuclear AMRC engineers working with a host of academic and industrial partners to develop intelligent welding and inspection tools.
The Inform project (Intelligent Fixtures for Optimised and Radical Manufacture) is meanwhile addressing a series of challenges in forming, machining and assembling large components. The Nuclear AMRC is working with leading industry and research partners including Sheffield Forgemasters and Rotherham-based MetLase.
Conference delegates had the opportunity to visit the Nuclear AMRC’s research factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park to see the Simple and Inform technologies in action.
The Nuclear AMRC has also worked with partners on other projects funded by the Nuclear Innovation Programme, including the Fit For Modules project led by Cammell Laird to develop fundamental systems for modular design; research into advanced joining technologies led by Frazer-Nash Consultancy; and the Mattear project (Materials and Manufacturing Technology Evaluation for Advanced Reactors) led by Wood.
EDF Energy’s nuclear new build project at Hinkley Point C has hit its biggest milestone yet on schedule.
The completion of the base for the first reactor – a milestone known as J-zero – means that the construction of the nuclear buildings above ground can now begin in earnest.
The final 9,000m³ of concrete was the largest concrete pour in the UK, beating a record set by the Shard in London. Reinforced with 5,000 tonnes of Welsh steel, the base has been under construction by the UK-French joint venture of Bouygues-Laing O’Rourke over the past six months.
EDF also announced that it had signed final contracts for an innovative joint venture to install the pipes and cables at the power station. The MEH joint venture involves Nuclear AMRC member Cavendish Nuclear with Balfour Beatty, Altrad and Doosan Babcock. The collaboration was influenced by the success of a single organisation carrying out this complex work during construction at Taishan, the EPR reactor now operating in China.
Pipework will be made by Bilfinger in Immingham at a modernised facility which will boost UK industrial capacity in this highly specialised area.
“I am proud of the talent and achievement of our diverse UK workforce, our unions, our international supply chain and the design team in France,” said Stuart Crooks, EDF’s managing director for Hinkley Point C. “We are benefitting from direct experience from other EPR projects and a partner in CGN which understands the technology and the project.”
The construction of the second of Hinkley Point C’s two 1.6GWe EPR reactor units is well underway, and on track to hit its own J-zero in June 2020. EDF says its progress shows the improved efficiency possible when an identical design is repeated, with the 12-month separation offering maximum efficiency for the transfer of teams between units.
EDF’s announcement came as UK business group CBI called for more investment in new nuclear power stations and carbon capture technology to reach the government’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In a letter to business minister Greg Clark, the CBI set out a series of priorities to decarbonise the UK economy, and called on government to use its forthcoming Energy White Paper to give more clarity.
Priorities identified by the CBI include progressing further large-scale nuclear projects, as well as supporting innovative nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors.
Tom Greatrex of the Nuclear Industry Association commented: “While Hinkley will generate power for the equivalent of seven per cent of homes, one new nuclear power station will not be enough to meet the government’s net zero target and address climate change with the required urgency.
“With all but one of our current fleet, which generates 20 per cent of our electricity, due to retire by 2030, we need that new capacity for clean, secure and reliable power. As Hinkley Point C is demonstrating, new nuclear plants create thousands of jobs both in construction and operation, provide security of supply and stimulate clean growth across the country, benefitting us all.”
Nuclear engineering group Nuvia has been given the highest award from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa) in recognition of its commitment to health and safety management and continuous improvement.
Nuvia, a tier one member of the Nuclear AMRC, won the 2019 Sir George Earle Trophy – the premier performance award for occupational health and safety – as well as the Engineering Services Sector Award for the fifth time.
The judges praised Nuvia’s approach to innovation, and noted its strong focus on consultation and engagement with the workforce as being key to achieving positive outcomes. The firm’s commitment to succession planning and the future of the profession was also identified as outstanding by the judges, who also recognised Nuvia’s investment in STEM ambassadors in schools and the exemplary opportunities given to apprentices and new recruits for their personal and professional development.
“This award is for everyone at Nuvia: our staff, our contractors and our supply chain,” said Nuvia CEO, Keith Collett. “It shows that the actions and attitudes of all our people towards safety, health and environment have created the kind of culture we first talked about a decade ago. It shows that our focus on workforce involvement, developing talent from within and an effective leadership have given the results we hoped for.
“This is an important milestone on our journey but it doesn’t mean we’ve reached the end of that road – if anything, it means we have to be at the top of our game all the time now as we will have to constantly prove we are worthy of this great award.”
Nuvia is the nuclear division of Soletanche Freyssinet, a world leader in specialised civil and geotechnical engineering, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of construction group Vinci.
The Nuclear AMRC has worked with heat exchanger specialist Thornhill Group to demonstrate a new welding method for small tube-to-tubesheet assemblies which could halve cycle time.
The project called on the Nuclear AMRC’s powerful disk laser welding cell, more often used on large components of up to three metre diameter. Using the laser on tubes measuring just 8mm diameter presented numerous challenges to the centre’s engineers, who successfully demonstrated that large-capacity welding machines can be used for nuclear components of all sizes.
Thornhill Group is the only UK provider of the complete cycle of heat exchanger services encompassing design, engineering, installation, repairs and servicing for clients in power generation, oil & gas, chemical and other demanding industries. Headquartered in Yorkshire, Thornhill employs around 150 people across its three sites.
One of Thornhill’s customers in the nuclear sector was looking to implement a tube-to-tubesheet joint within a restricted space, and asked the company to investigate how this could be designed and manufactured. To complement their own expertise in heat exchanger development and fabrication, the Thornhill team called on the Nuclear AMRC to help determine the feasibility of the customer’s design.
The study for Thornhill was one of the first commercial projects for the Nuclear AMRC’s disk laser welding cell, which was commissioned in early 2018. The cell was designed to develop high-speed welding techniques for large assemblies such as 3m3 nuclear waste containers, but is also capable of very fine narrow welds thanks to the high power density of the laser beam and fast travel speed of its gantry-mounted robot.
“Thornhill’s heat exchanger was much smaller than the assemblies we usually work with, and right at the limit of what our robot and welding head can handle,” says Dr Will Kyffin, head of the Nuclear AMRC’s welding team. “The size and inertial mass of the robot meant that programming it to perform an accurate circumferential weld of just 8mm diameter was extremely challenging, especially as this was a new facility and the team were still finding out what it could really do.”
The welding head had to be customised for the job, with the large gas nozzle and shield removed in favour of a separate gas shielding nozzle, and laser power was reduced to just 2kW from its maximum 16kW. Ensuring a high quality weld meant considering a host of factors, from angle and position of the weld head, to reducing the gas flow to avoid turbulence in the molten metal.
Initial trials showed that small tube-to-tubesheet welds could be successfully completed, with welding taking just over one second for each join. Allowing for movement time, a full tubesheet could be welded in a matter of minutes.
The project proved that a robotic laser welding cell can successfully join small tube-to-tubesheet assemblies, and the customer’s design can be manufactured to requirements.
Thornhill presented their full manufacturing proposal to their customer, secure in the knowledge that it had been practically tried and tested.
“While our heat exchanger design and manufacturing expertise has been proven over many years in the nuclear industry as well as other industry sectors, this project presented unique challenges,” says Sean Murphy, Thornhill’s business development director. “Sourcing independent, authoritative data from the Nuclear AMRC, one of the world’s leading research bodies in the nuclear field, on its feasibility was invaluable in presenting our solution to the customer.”
The Nuclear AMRC and NNL present a major conference covering research supported by the government-funded Nuclear Innovation Programme.
The UK government is investing in an ambitious multi-year research and development programme to develop the next generation of nuclear technologies. The Nuclear Innovation Programme covers a host of technology areas which will provide real commercial opportunities to companies in the supply chain for nuclear and other high-value sectors.
Join the Nuclear AMRC, National Nuclear Laboratory and international industry experts in nuclear, digital manufacturing and R&D to discover the research so far, and learn more about the opportunities to come.
Confirmed speakers include:
Dr Tim Stone, Nuclear Industry Association
Allan Cook, High Value Manufacturing Catapult
Adriènne Kelbie, Office for Nuclear Regulation
Dr Fiona Rayment & Steve Napier, NIRO
Damitha Adikaari & Si Dilks, BEIS
Professor Ian Chapman, UKAEA
Duncan Steel, Sellafield Ltd
Andrew Storer & Adam Bond, Nuclear AMRC
PaulHowarth & Professor Andrew Sherry, NNL
Plus project leaders for all parts of the Nuclear Innovation Programme
Swagelok Manchester presents an introduction to quality assurance requirements and regulatory commitments at nuclear facilities – a great opportunity for Fit For Nuclear participants to learn the essentials of nuclear quality.
Delegates will learn about general quality assurance requirements, and Swagelok’s top tips on how they can be applied to nuclear facilities:
Basic quality requirements – training and qualification, design, material traceability, continuous improvement.
ONR regulations and guides: categorisation of safety functions and SSCs, integrity of metal components and
structures, safety systems.
Codes and standards: ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section III, AFCEN RCC-M.
Quality requirements at specific sites: operating reactors such as Sizewell B, Torness, and Hinkley B; decommissioning sites such as Wylfa Newydd and Oldbury; non-power-producing sites such as Sellafield.
Companies can register for two free places at one of the three locations.
Engineering group Wood is to lead the next phase of research into digital reactor design.
The research is backed by around £3.3 million from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy as part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme. The funding will allow experts from industry and academia to use collaborative virtual engineering and high-performance computing to demonstrate significant cost savings in the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power reactors.
The Nuclear AMRC is part of the Digital Reactor Design Partnership led by Wood, and will integrate manufacturing data into digital models to better understand performance over the life of the reactor.
Other partners include EDF Energy, Rolls-Royce, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre.
The first phase of the Digital Reactor Design programme successfully demonstrated a proof of concept, by developing a computer-simulated design and management platform covering the whole nuclear life cycle.
The new second phase will focus on implementing digital tools in a software framework, using real project applications to demonstrate improved efficiency, enable supply chain collaboration, and deliver cultural change across the industry.
“This project has already been highly successful in proving the concept for a new and better way of designing and building nuclear power reactors,” said Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood’s Specialist Technical Solutions business. “We’re looking forward to working with BEIS on the next stage and taking a very significant step towards achieving the cost reduction targets proposed by the UK Nuclear Sector Deal.”
Results from the first phase will be shared at the Nuclear Innovation UK conference in July. Organised by the Nuclear AMRC and NNL, the two-day conference will include technical presentations from the full range of projects supported by the Nuclear Innovation Programme, plus key speakers from industry and government.
Andrew Stephenson, the UK’s minister for nuclear, commented: “Using state-of-the-art virtual engineering and computing technology to design and build the next generation of nuclear reactors will position the UK at the cutting-edge of low-carbon energy innovation.
“Making simulations in a virtual world allows designers to take virtual risks, reducing design times and demonstrating cost savings across the nuclear life cycle, from design through to decommissioning. This is key to achieving the cost reduction targets in the Nuclear Sector Deal and part of our modern Industrial Strategy.”
The UK government’s nuclear innovation advisors are recommending a £1 billion, five-year investment in advanced nuclear technologies to help meet the country’s clean energy commitments.
The recommendation comes in an annual report from the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (Nirab), its first since being reconvened in 2018. Nirab brings together around 40 leading nuclear professionals from industry and academia to advise government on publicly-funded research, and is chaired by fomer Nuclear AMRC chief executive Mike Tynan.
To meet the requirements of the UK’s 2017 Clean Energy Strategy, the report urges government to work with industry to define a roadmap for future nuclear new build. A sustained cost-competitive programme of new reactors – including current Gen III+ designs as well as new kinds of advanced modular reactor (AMR) and small modular reactor (SMR) – is needed to meet legal targets for decarbonisation, and early involvement will create significant opportunities for job creation and economic growth for the UK.
Government support for demonstrating advanced reactors is essential for attracting and enabling the necessary level of private investment, the report notes, and government should invest alongside industry to facilitate an advanced nuclear technologies build programme capable of delivering an operational reactor by 2030.
The government is currently investing in new nuclear technologies through the Nuclear Innovation Programme, with £180 million committed from 2016–21. The report highlights some case studies from the current phase of the Nuclear Innovation Programme, including the Simple and Inform projects led by the Nuclear AMRC.
Over the following five years, Nirab recommends that the government invest around £1 billion in key programmes: around £600 million in advanced nuclear technology demonstration; £300 million in research to develop key UK capabilities and align the supply chain to market opportunities; and £100 million in critical infrastructure to support prototyping and demonstration of new reactor concepts.
International collaboration is vital for the UK to play a significant role in commercialising advanced nuclear technologies, the report notes. Nirab recommends that the government establishes an effective international strategy, and reviews the impact of Brexit on UK nuclear programmes once the new arrangements become clear.
To share the latest results and projects from the Nuclear Innovation Programme, the Nuclear AMRC and NNL are hosting a major two-day conference in the summer. Nuclear Innovation UK takes place on 2–3 July in Sheffield, and will feature presentations on current projects as well as discussions on future opportunities.