Rahul enters Great British Bake Off

An engineering researcher at the Nuclear AMRC is taking part in The Great British Bake Off.

Dr Rahul Mandal, a research associate specialising in light-based measurement of engineered components, started baking cakes for colleagues at the Nuclear AMRC only two years ago. He is now a contestant in the 2018 series of the hit baking competition, broadcast on Channel 4 from 28 August.

Born in India, Rahul came to the UK in 2010 on a scholarship to study for his PhD in optical metrology at Loughborough University. He joined the Nuclear AMRC in 2015, to develop innovative automated techniques for inspecting components for any contamination or flaw. “It’s all about measuring things with light,” he says.

Rahul has expanded his research skills, and now works with other light-based measurement technologies including confocal microscopy and interferometry for weld inspection.

Five-year funding for HVM Catapult

The government has confirmed ongoing funding for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult network of industry-led research centres, including the Nuclear AMRC.

The HVM Catapult consists of seven specialised R&D centres, and aims to improve the UK’s performance in translating the strengths of its world leading research base into the goods and processes which equip the UK’s high value manufacturers for success in challenging global markets.

Dick Elsy, chief executive officer of the HVM Catapult, said: “The HVM Catapult is perfectly placed to make a full contribution to a successful UK industrial strategy. In our first six years of operation we have established a proven track record, generating investment in R&D and driving improvements in manufacturing productivity and competitiveness. The five-year funding package announced today allows us to build on our early successes, broadening our productivity impacts while equipping British firms with the manufacturing innovation they need to compete in uncertain and challenging international markets. Our support has never been more needed.”

The Nuclear AMRC will receive around £46 million funding over the next five years. The funding will allow the centre to expand its services to UK manufacturers, and develop new capabilities at its research factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, as well as its specialist R&D facilities in Birkenhead and Derby.

“Our Catapult funding gives us a secure base to expand our services to UK manufacturers, and work with even more companies to help them innovate and compete,” said Andrew Storer, chief executive officer of the Nuclear AMRC. “We are set to play a key role in delivering the nuclear sector deal agreed by government and industry earlier this summer, and are investing in our facilities in Rotherham, Birkenhead and Derby to help UK manufacturers win work in the nuclear supply chain at home and worldwide.”

Its sister centre at the University of Sheffield, the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), will receive around £81 million funding over five years. Since its launch in 2001, the AMRC has expanded to include three research facilities at the Advanced Manufacturing Park and Sheffield Business Park, and is now establishing new regional facilities in the North West and Wales.

Professor Keith Ridgway, executive dean for the two centres, said: “This is a tremendous vote of confidence in the work we do with our industrial partners, and another significant boost for the Sheffield City Region and its emerging Global Innovation Corridor.

“As members of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, we are part of a larger network of research and innovation assets that are helping to solve the conundrum of the UK’s productivity challenge. Our ability to draw on the research excellence of the University of Sheffield also gives us an additional edge. It means we are able to connect fundamental and basic science to translational research that makes a bigger impact on the factory floor.

“The new money will enable us to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies across advanced manufacturing, in line with the Industrial Strategy and Juergen Maier’s Made Smarter Review. It shows joined up thinking at the heart of government and a determination to rebalance the economy with advanced manufacturing at its heart, supported by some of the best researchers in the world: here in the Sheffield City Region.”

Under the Catapult funding model, each centre will match its core funding with commercial investment from companies which work with the centres to develop innovative technologies and improve their competitiveness, and from externally-funded collaborative R&D projects.

The funding is part of a £780 million investment across the Catapult network of technology and innovation centres. The funding was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, during a visit to another of the centres within the HVM Catapult.

“It is by backing innovative British companies to grow and create jobs that we will continue this progress and build an economy fit for the future,” Hammond said. “Today’s £780 million investment will support innovators across the country to create the technologies of the future, and the better, highly-paid jobs we urgently need.”

The £780 million investment also includes funding for Catapults focusing on technology areas including Energy Systems, Offshore Renewable Energy, Cell & Gene Therapy, Satellite Applications, and Compound Semiconductors.

Minister welcomes new Derby facility

The Nuclear AMRC’s new Derby facility has been welcomed by government as aligning with the aims of the £200 million nuclear sector deal.

The Nuclear AMRC is initially taking space in the iHub facility at Derby’s Infinity Park, to explore innovative technologies while it develops the case for a new full-scale bespoke facility.

The new facility will complement the capabilities of the Nuclear AMRC’s core research factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, and its modularisation R&D facility in Birkenhead, and help expand the centre’s capabilities into new technology areas.

Industry and energy minister Richard Harrington MP welcomed the expansion as great news for the Midlands Engine initative to grow the region’s economy.

“This latest cutting-edge facility in Derby will further boost the future ambitions of the area to lead the way in the UK’s efforts to upscale and innovate, creating top-tier modern jobs for Midlands Engine workers,” Harrington said. “Following the recent announcement of the landmark £200 million nuclear sector deal supported by both government and industry, it again demonstrates the UK’s advanced manufacturing and technology as part of our forward-thinking modern industrial strategy.”

The centre is now kitting out two workshops within iHub, plus office space, and planning a launch event for regional businesses in October.

The larger 500m2 workshop will be a flexible incubator for new manufacturing technologies, operating at an earlier level of manufacturing readiness than the Nuclear AMRC’s other facilities. It will host a series of reconfigurable manufacturing bays where advanced physical and digital equipment can be configured to meet the needs of industry customers who want to explore and develop new technologies and processes.

The second 290m2 workshop will develop the centre’s capabilities in new technical areas including electrical controls and instrumentation (EC&I) and equipment qualification. The Nuclear AMRC is working closely with member company Ultra Electronics to bring the same innovative collaborative approach to the UK’s EC&I requirements as its Rotherham facility brings to the challenges of large-scale mechanical engineering.

The iHub facility is just the first step for the Nuclear AMRC’s plans for Derby. The centre proposes to build a new bespoke research facility of around 5,000m2 on Infinity Park to focus on later-stage development in technology areas which will deliver the maximum impact for the UK’s nuclear supply chain.

Nuclear AMRC chief executive officer Andrew Storer says the development will combine the strengths of the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse to put both regions at the centre of the development of a cost-effective, sustainable energy base for the UK economy.

“At Rotherham, Birkenhead and Derby, we will be critical to delivering the nuclear sector deal,” Storer said. “We will work with our industry and research partners to demonstrate the benefits of advanced techniques and technologies for manufacturers of all sizes. We will also be instrumental in delivering the new national programme to enhance the capabilities of the UK’s supply chain.

“As part of our hugely successful Fit For Nuclear programme, we have already helped dozens of Midlands-based manufacturers raise their game and move up the value chain. The sector deal makes it clear we will also be integral to the new national programme to enhance the capabilities of the UK’s supply chain, expanding our established work and building on the success of the Civil Nuclear Sharing in Growth programme.”

The Nuclear AMRC also recently signed new agreements with global clean energy group CGN, to support the group’s development of a UK supply chain for its proposed new reactor at Bradwell in Essex; and with leading nuclear engineering group Assystem, to collaborate on joint research projects involving advanced modular reactors, including small modular reactors, and other innovative nuclear technologies.