Powering the UK's future energy supply

1 min read

The nuclear sector is coming to the fore once again as the UK and other nations look to achieve a secure, low-carbon energy supply. Justin Burns went to Yorkshire to visit the Nuclear AMRC which is playing a pivotal role

The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) is at the forefront of nuclear energy research in the UK, along with growing the UK’s nuclear manufacturing capabilities to meet future demand.

The Rotherham-based High Value Manufacturing Catapult research centre is at the heart of attempts to develop components for fusion energy and bring the first new nuclear power station to the UK since the 1990s with deployment of the Rolls-Royce SMR (small modular reactor) programme to deliver a fleet of power plants.

The Nuclear AMRC itself, is spread over 8,000 square metres and to aid efforts, its plant list includes a range of machine tools and the latest state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, to develop innovative and optimised processes in machining, joining, inspection and other large-scale precision manufacturing technologies.

These include a Starrag Heckert HEC1800, Mazak Integrex i-200, Hartford LG-500, Starrag Heckert HEC800, Dorries Contumat VTL and ABB/Staubli robot cell, while there is also a large-scale Soraluce FX12000 horizontal boring machine, capable of working on pieces of up to 12 metres length and five metres diameter – and the largest machining platform available for collaborative R&D in the UK.

In terms of welding and materials, the focus is on developing techniques for joining, cladding and near-net shape manufacture across the industry and to aid this R&D, there is a Pro-Beam K25, Cyan-Tec disk laser, Pro-Beam K2000, Diode laser, K-TIG keyhole welding, Polysoude GTAW cell, Quintus hot isostatic pressing machine and a metrology room with inspection machines.

Speaking to Machinery on site, senior technical fellow Andrew Wright, who is joint-head of machining technologies, explains the Nuclear AMRC’s “core philosophy” is to de-risk the manufacturing and machining process.

This all he notes, along with the single set-up manufacture, really supports the nuclear industry which is “really conservative” and wants things done “right first time” with minimal chance of errors and problems.

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