Welding R&D at the Nuclear AMRC focuses on developing advanced and innovative joining and cladding techniques tailored to the needs of the nuclear industry.
Many key components in a nuclear power plant must be manufactured by joining very large sub-components in a way that resists corrosion and maintains material integrity under extreme in-service conditions.
Welding on this scale can be a complex task – a single joint between thick-walled nuclear components might require over 100 weld passes using standard techniques. The repeated heating and cooling can have significant effects on the material properties around the join, potentially harming the long-term performance of the component.
Our welding team has the resources and experience to help companies develop new and optimised welding processes for the most demanding applications. We are also investigating and developing a variety of materials engineering processes, including hot isostatic pressing and bulk additive manufacturing, for nuclear applications.
For more information about our welding capabilities and research, contact Keith Bridger, Nuclear AMRC head of welding and materials engineering.
Current equipment at our South Yorkshire facility includes:
Pro-Beam K2000 EBW chamber
- Very large electron beam welding chamber with range of advanced features, for joining and additive manufacturing of vessels and components.
- Volume of 208 cubic metres, the largest of its kind in the UK, with mobile 30kW 60kV gun.
- Able to produce fully penetrated single-sided welds of 100mm thickness in steel.
- Fully automatic joint following and variable thickness programming, available on only a small number of machines worldwide.
- Nine axes of movement.
- Research into bulk additive manufacturing.
Pro-Beam K25 EBW chamber
- Electron beam welding chamber for pilot research into innovative joining techniques for large components.
- Chamber volume of 2.5 cubic metres, max part weight 500kg.
- Static 40kW 80kV electron beam gun.
- Welding of plates up to 100mm wall thickness, plus tubes and complex structures.
Diode laser cell
- High-speed, high-quality, low-waste cladding of large components with stainless steel, nickel alloys and wear-resistant alloys.
- 15kW Laserline fibre-coupled diode laser, capable of depositing up to 10kg/hour.
- Enclosed chamber measuring 10 x 10 x 5 metres.
- Roller turntable with max workpiece 3 metres diameter, 1 tonne load.
- Research into bulk additive manufacturing and five-sided welding techniques.
ITW Miller SAW cell
- Flexible submerged arc welding cell for conventional narrow-groove, circumferential and longitudinal welding.
- 15 tonne manipulator under 5 x 5 metres column and boom, supplied by ITW Miller.
- Range of heads, including strip clad welding head capable of welding 90mm strip.
- R&D focuses on optimising conventional welding processes for nuclear applications.
Polysoude GTAW cell
- Multi-function gas tungsten arc welding cell offering choice of heads for wide range of applications.
- Polysoude 7.5 tonne manipulator on 6 x 4 metres column and boom.
- Can deploy variety of end effectors, on tractor unit with three axes of movement. Heads include dual hot and cold wire; narrow gap; extremely narrow gap; and keyhole welding.
- Polycar track system allows welding where column and boom can’t reach.
- Research focuses on optimising conventional welding processes for nuclear applications; and groove welding for components, such as set-in nozzles and bosses, within the nuclear island.
K-TIG 1000 keyhole welding
- High-speed single-pass full-penetration GTAW system for tubes, pipes and other fabrications.
- Welding speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional GTAW.
- Full automation with no need for filler wire, edge beveling or skilled operators.
- Can join metals including stainless steels, titanium, zirconium, Inconel and other specialist alloys.
ESAB planetary SAW
- ESAB A6-MHW submerged arc welding system designed for joining nozzles and access hatches to cylindrical vessels or flat plates.
- Can weld nozzles of 150-1,100mm diameter and 150-750mm height.
- Slip ring allows continuous weld through repeated rotations, with high deposition rates significantly reducing weld time.
AMI tubesheet welding cell
- Specialised GTAW cell for autogenous welding of tubes and tubesheets.
- AMI Model 96 and Model 6 weld heads with AMI Model 227 power source.
- Fully portable solution for fabrication of heat exchanger assemblies.
- Pneumatic clamping system ensures that weld heads are optimally positioned before welding.
AMI narrow groove welding cell
- Orbital welding cell for large and small diameter narrow groove weld preparations.
- AMI Model 52 narrow groove welding head with AMI Model 415 power source, offering high integrity GTAW process.
- Used without traditional column and boom, ideal for portable welding projects.
Lincoln Electric multi-wire SAW
- Lincoln Electric welding head feeeding up to five wires, mounted on 6 x 6 metres Pema column and boom.
- Capable of high-deposition joint welding and strip cladding using electroslag process.
- Applications include weld joints and cladding for components outside the nuclear island, and renewable energy applications.
Bulk additive manufacturing cell
- Robotic cell capable of building high-integrity parts from the ground up, and adding metal features to large forgings such as pressure vessels.
- Robot works directly from CAD model to lay down weld material to create three-dimensional geometries.
- 10 x 5 metres cell with a six-axis Kuka robot arm, mounted on a three-axis 9 metre gantry, plus a two-axis manipulator with turntable of 3.5 metres diameter.
- Initially fitted with ‘toptig’ arc welding system, which integrates the wire feed into the welding torch, developed by Air Liquide specifically for robotic welding applications.
Quintus hot isostatic pressing facility
- Densification of cast or additive parts, and consolidation of metallic powders to produce near-net shape components.
- Hot zone of 450mm diameter by 1300mm length, workload up to 1 tonne.
- Temperature up to 1450°C, pressure up to 207MPa (30,000psi).
For detailed information about our welding, cladding and materials engineering resources, download the Nuclear AMRC equipment & capability directory (5MB pdf).