Fit For Nuclear introduction

Thursday 10 May, Manchester.

An introduction to our Fit For Nuclear programme for manufacturing companies who want to investigate a strategic move into the nuclear sector.

The one-day event will explain more about Fit For Nuclear, and help companies decide whether nuclear manufacturing is right for them.

The event will also cover our other work, including support in skills, training and R&D, and offer one-to-one sessions with our nuclear manufacturing specialists to discuss specific requirements.

We will be offering similar events around the UK later this year.

For more information, contact Rachael

£15 million for industry R&D

The UK government is investing up to £15 million in research, development and knowledge transfer to stimulate innovation and support growth in the civil nuclear power sector.

The investment was announced by the Technology Strategy Board during their Collaboration Nation: Nuclear R&D event at the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham.

The programme is backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It will fund feasibility projects, collaborative research and development and knowledge transfer partnerships that stimulate innovation and strengthen the UK supply chain.

Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “Innovation is key if UK businesses are to take advantage of likely future global market  opportunities in civil nuclear engineering and its associated technologies.  As part of a strong, sustainable supply chain, we see innovation, combined with the development and transfer of skills, as vital ingredients to success.”

The programme includes up to £12 million for business-led collaborative R&D projects. Qualifying projects will generally have a value of between £500,000 and £2 million, with up to half of the investment coming from the public funding, and last two to three years.

A further £2 million will be invested in feasibility studies lasting 6-12 months. Qualifying projects must be led by an SME, and will attract up to £75,000 grant funding.

Applicants will have to show how they will help strengthen the UK supply chain whilst contributing to the high-level, long-term challenge of developing cost-effective and safe solutions with high reliability and durability in the nuclear sector. They must also take account of the key issues of regulation, health and safety and non-proliferation. For more information, see the Developing the civil nuclear power supply chain competition call.

The feasibility and collaborative R&D competitions open on 2 July 2012 and the deadline for registration is 29 August 2012.  The deadline for submitting feasibility applications and expressions of interest in collaborative R&D is 5 September 2012.

Another £1 million will support Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), which will focus on the transfer of knowledge and skills into industry from academia. The KTP call also opens on 2 July 2012 and applications must be submitted by 4 October 2012.

Further information from the Technology Strategy Board:

Nnuman to address next generation of nuclear manufacturing

The Nuclear AMRC is launching new long-term research into innovative manufacturing techniques to meet the future needs of the UK nuclear industry.

New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing (Nnuman) is a joint project between the Dalton Nuclear Institute at The University of Manchester and the Nuclear AMRC at the University of Sheffield, with £4 million funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The universities will also invest around £4 million in the project, which will focus on the early development of a range of new manufacturing technologies. The most promising technologies will go on into advanced development at the Nuclear AMRC and National Nuclear Laboratory.

A recent House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee report – Nuclear Research and Development Capabilities – identified insufficient research and development capacity as a potential threat to the UK’s ability to produce power from nuclear energy.

The Nnuman project will address this concern by developing R&D capabilities to support a robust civil nuclear power supply to meet UK and global energy needs well into the future. The project will focus on the fundamentals of manufacturing for new nuclear build and the next generation of power stations.

Key research areas for Nnuman are:

  • Innovative joining technologies, including narrow gap welding and processes for next-generation materials.
  • Advanced machining, including robotic machining and laser and cryogenic processes.
  • Near-net shape manufacture, including hot isostatic pressing and shape welding.
  • Product performance, to prove that all components produced by these new methods will survive a nuclear environment.

Professor Mike Burke, director of research and technology at the Nuclear AMRC, based at the Dalton Nuclear Institute’s Manufacturing Technology Research Laboratory at The University of Manchester (pictured left), said: “This programme grant is a foresighted investment that will enable the pursuit of new and more efficient manufacturing technologies while maintaining the standards of reliability and safety that are expected in the nuclear industry. 

“It also represents an exciting opportunity for our next generation of scientists and engineers to develop state-of-the-art understanding of new processes and product performance.”

Professor Andrew Sherry, Director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute at The University of Manchester (pictured right), said: “Innovation in manufacturing technology for new nuclear build offers the UK a real growth opportunity. We are delighted that Nnuman will now be the research engine that drives this forward.”

Professor Keith Ridgway, programme director of the Nuclear AMRC and Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Institute, said: “This funding will help us to look at the longer term manufacturing research needs of the nuclear industry. The work we will do in the Nnuman project will feed directly into the applications-directed work of the Nuclear AMRC.”

Nnuman will act as a research engine for nuclear manufacturing, driving new technologies from the laboratory to production-readiness. The project will showcase the benefits of these new methods to UK manufacturing companies and help them introduce them to their own factories.

Through a programme of multi-disciplinary research at Manchester and Sheffield, the next generation of nuclear manufacturing scientists and engineers will be trained with the highest level of academic and technical support, using world-class facilities and with strong links to industry. Nnuman will help young engineers develop high-level skills to fill new high-quality jobs in a growing nuclear manufacturing sector.

Professor Dave Delpy, EPSRC’s chief executive, said: “Several years ago, EPSRC recognised the importance of maintaining an expertise in nuclear engineering in the UK, and made a strategic investment in postgraduate training through its Keeping the Nuclear Option Open initiative and subsequent funding programmes.

“The New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing programme builds on these earlier investments, and will play a key role in helping develop new manufacturing techniques that will lead to materials that can function more effectively in the hostile operating environments of a nuclear reactor. Having a cutting edge capability in these fields will mean we have a stronger foothold in the manufacturing sector and are able to attract the best students and researchers to the UK.”

Research collaboration for Newburgh Engineering

The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is working with contract manufacturer Newburgh Engineering to deliver lasting business benefits. The centre’s machining research specialists are collaborating with Newburgh to make sure that the company’s key products are made in the most efficient way.

Newburgh has been working for several years with an overseas customer to produce large components for the energy industry. These parts require significant machining on large-bed machines at Newburgh’s Bradwell and Rotherham sites.

In today’s competitive global market, suppliers like Newburgh are constantly challenged to reduce costs. Newburgh is now working with the Nuclear AMRC to make sure its machining processes are optimised and to look at new techniques and technologies that could be applied.

Andrew Wright of Newburgh Engineering with Stuart Dawson of the Nuclear AMRCAs part of Newburgh’s membership agreement, one of the company’s own employees – experienced production engineer Andrew Wright (left) – now works full-time at the Nuclear AMRC. As well as supporting the centre’s machining team, Andrew is leading the project to optimise Newburgh’s current production processes.

“Traditionally in a production environment, the engineers don’t have time to do detailed tests – you can’t optimise or do benchmarking,” he says. “At the Nuclear AMRC, we’ve got time to do the analysis and get the best processes together and collect some proper data.”

Andrew is currently heading a benchmarking process to establish whether the current process is already optimal or, if not, find ways to improve it.

One possible way to improve the production method is to use a more powerful machine tool. Andrew will lead tests on the Nuclear AMRC’s StarragHeckert HEC1600 horizontal boring centre. Newburgh does have similarly powerful machining centres of its own, but using them in research would mean they weren’t available for commercial production. “We can do this off-site and not cost Newburgh any production time,” Andrew notes.

Other companies which have joined the Nuclear AMRC are also providing their experience and resources. Sandvik Coromant, as a tier one member in the Nuclear AMRC, is collaborating as tooling partner for the Newburgh project. And the team are using CAD/CAM software provided by SolidCAM. “That’s a system that Newburgh don’t use, but at the Nuclear AMRC we’re able to use the latest system,” Andrew says. “We’ve got a pool of software from different companies that SMEs or even large companies wouldn’t have.”

Newburgh can also draw on the academic resources of the centre. Krystian Wika, postgraduate research engineer at the Nuclear AMRC, is leading the investigation into new production techniques which could potentially be introduced to Newburgh’s own factories.

Stuart Dawson, head of machining research at the Nuclear AMRC, says: “Andrew is an invaluable addition to our team. As well as his practical machining expertise, his industry knowledge helps keep us focused on the real business requirements of the companies that we’re working with. Newburgh is a great example of the kind of manufacturing company that can succeed in the nuclear supply chain, and we’re proud to be working closely with them to help achieve their ambitions for the UK market and beyond.”

“I have 20 years experience in subcontracting business for nuclear parts, and bring some practical manufacturing experience to the team,” Andrew says. “I’m also getting the opportunity to work with different systems and different people, and learn a new approach to work. The Nuclear AMRC is gaining real-world industry experience, and I’m gaining a more theoretical approach to manufacturing research.”

Newburgh Engineering started manufacturing parts for the nuclear industry in the 1950s from its Bradwell site, Derbyshire. This makes it one of the first engineering companies to establish itself in this sector, and one of the few who has never stopped producing components for nuclear reactors.

Nuclear contracts remain a significant part of the modern business, making up over a fifth of its total turnover. It was awarded a major 10 year contract from Springfields Fuels Ltd in 2011, demonstrating the company’s commitment to the nuclear new build agenda.

Commercial Manager Matthew Jewitt says: “Newburgh Engineering is already a premier contract manufacturer, and has decades of knowledge about producing parts for the nuclear industry. Working with the Nuclear AMRC to optimize and improve our production methods will make us even better, and should secure our place as a key supplier for the nuclear new build.”