The Nuclear AMRC is a partner in a host of collaborative research and development projects, supported by UK and international funding programmes.
Current collaborative R&D projects at the Nuclear AMRC include:
- Awesim (automated welding equipment system inspection and monitoring) – a Nuclear Innovation Programme (NIP) project led by Cavendish Nuclear, to develop automated inspection and monitoring techniques for high-quality welding. The proposed technology will enable early detection of flaws as they occur, reducing rework, repair and removing redundant mid-stage weld inspections, with significant cost and time benefits in the manufacture of nuclear components. The project will draws on research from our Simple project, and we will host the factory-scale Awesim demonstrator at our Rotherham facility.
- PITCO2C (process improvement through CO2 cooling) – a NIP project led by Nuclear Energy Components Ltd to quantify the benefits of supercritical carbon dioxide coolant for nuclear machining, and develop a rotary coolant adaptor to allow widespread deployment of the technology on legacy machine tools. The project builds on our previous research into advanced coolants for nuclear applications, including part of the Inform project.
- SonicSMR – a NIP project to develop high-quality additive manufacturing techniques for small modular reactor components, led by Laser Additive Solutions Ltd. The project will use power ultrasonics, optical process monitoring and AI-based automated defect recognition to enable defect-free additive manufacturing, with LAS creating a fully operational additive cell at its Doncaster facility to demonstrate the technology. We are leading research into high-power ultrasonics to improve the components’ material properties.
- Weld radiography research – a NIP project combining 3D position-sensing techniques with autonomous robotics, led by Createc. The resulting in-process radiographic system will be safer, less obstructive, and offer higher performance than established techniques for industrial weld inspection.
- Advanced manufacturing for SMR pressure vessels – a four-year collaboration with the US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop new manufacturing and fabrication methods for reactor pressure vessels. The project aims to reduce the total time needed to produce a SMR pressure vessel from three to four years to less than 12 months. In the first phase, we have developed electron beam welding techniques for vessel sections made from metal powder using hot isostatic pressing. The project is funded by the US Department of Energy, and involves industrial partners on both sides of the Atlantic including Sheffield Forgemasters.
- SafeG – a European collaboration to develop and demonstrate the safety of gas-cooled fast reactors through innovative materials, technologies and processes. Funded by the Horizon 2020 Euratom programme and involving 14 partners across Europe, SafeG builds on the success of the Gemini+ project (see below). We are contributing to research into sensors and instrumentation, and on welding technology.
- Nucobam (nuclear components based on additive manufacturing) – manufacturing, characterisation and validation studies to assess additive manufacturing as a method for producing components for the nuclear sector. The €2.5 million project is funded by Horizon 2020, and led by CEA of France with 12 partners from across Europe.
- Meactos (mitigating environmentally-assisted cracking through optimisation of surface condition) – reducing the risk of stress corrosion cracking in the primary circuit of light water reactors. The €2.5 million project is funded by Horizon 2020, and involves 16 partners led by Ciemat of Spain. We are focusing on the root causes of stress corrosion cracking in nuclear steels.
Recently completed collaborative projects include:
- Simple (single manufacturing platform environment) – integrating a range of technologies and operations into a single machine, reducing cycle time for large complex components. We worked with the Advanced Forming Research Centre, AMRC, University of Sheffield physics department, TWI and Peak NDT, with £1.35 million project funding from BEIS through SBRI.
- Inform (intelligent fixtures for optimised and radical manufacture) – tackling a range of challenges in producing high-precision fabrications. Partners included Sheffield Forgemasters, MetLase, Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, Specnow, EGB Vacuum and TWI, with around £1.1 million project funding from BEIS through SBRI.
- Gemini+ – developing a small modular high-temperature gas reactor for industrial co-generation applications. The €2.5 million project was funded by Horizon 2020, with 27 partners from Europe, South Korea, Japan and the US. We led a study on modular manufacturing and construction techniques for the proposed reactor.
- Nnuman – £8 million EPSRC-funded programme led by The University of Manchester Dalton Nuclear Institute, with support from the Nuclear AMRC and National Nuclear Laboratory. Nnuman addressed new R&D capabilities to support the future needs of the UK and global nuclear industry, in areas including joining, advanced machining, near-net shape manufacture, and product performance. We lead the Nnuman community to continue this work into the wider nuclear landscape.
- Innovative forging and fabrication solutions for the energy sector – a £4 million, 30-month project led by Sheffield Forgemasters to reduce the cost, lead time and embodied energy of large forgings. The project involved the production of large prototype nuclear components using a range of forging, forming and fabrication methods. We provided machining and other process development support – download the case study (pdf) on how we demonstrated time savings of more than 40 per cent for milling large forgings. Other partners include Rolls-Royce, The Welding Institute, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.
- Amos – we led this €2.6 million, four-year collaboration between European and Canadian aerospace manufacturers and researchers, to investigate the use of additive manufacturing techniques for repair and remanufacturing. The project involved a range of additive technologies used by the partners, with the Nuclear AMRC focusing on wire-feed gas tungsten arc processes used in our bulk additive cell – watch the Amos video on chocolate science and aircraft repair. Amos was supported by Horizon 2020 and Canadian funding agencies CARIC and NSERC.
- Coroma – we worked alongside our sister centre, the AMRC, on this €6 million, three-year project to develop intelligent robots for a range of manufacturing tasks. Funded through Horizon 2020, the Coroma consortium included 16 international partners from seven countries. We demonstrated applications for large reactor components, including automated grinding of nuclear fuel racks and tube structures.
- McScamp – we led this €350,000, 18-month project to develop machining techniques to reduce the risk of component failure over a reactor’s lifetime. McScamp was funded by the European Nugenia programme, and also involved Areva and the Estonian University of Life Sciences’ Institute of Technology. We studied the root causes of stress corrosion cracking in nuclear steels, and investigated advanced machining techniques such as dry machining and cryogenic cooling which can significantly improve surface integrity.
- PowderWay – we led this €360,000, 18-month project, funded by Nugenia, to investigate powder metallurgy techniques for nuclear components. Partners included Areva, EDF, PNB, CEA and Swerea. PowderWay assessed the potential for powder-based processes such as hot isostatic pressing, additive manufacturing and spark plasma sintering in the civil nuclear sector, and established a strategy to move the most promising techniques into commercial production.
Find out more about collaborative R&D with the Nuclear AMRC.