Forgemasters win £2m funding injection for new nuclear technology

Published 27th March 2013 at 4:52pm

Sheffield Forgemasters has secured two multi-million pound funding grants from the Government aimed at projects to boost its nuclear power capabilities and expertise.

The funding, totalling £2.15m, from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, will be used on two projects being spearheaded by the award-winning, world leading Sheffield-based engineering company.

Just over £1m will go towards a £2.1m project with TWI and the University of Sheffield, to produce cast reactor coolant pumps. SFIL will deliver a lower cost, cast solution for the RCP to replace the current forged design. Successful qualification should result in major export orders for the UK.

The rest of the money will go towards another multi million pound project led by Forgemasters, this time working with Rolls Royce, MERMEC UK and the University of Sheffield.

This project is to develop innovative production, simulation and measurement technologies to produce a full-scale, forged component for the primary loop of a civil nuclear power plant. The aim is for Forgemasters to be one of the first companies globally to produce and achieve mechanical properties on such a newly designed component.

Professor Graham Honeyman, chief executive of Sheffield Forgemasters, said: “We have, and continue to, invest significant time and money into pushing the boundaries of casting and forging technology here at Sheffield Forgemasters and we are crucial in placing the UK at the forefront of development in this sector.

“Our techniques have not been achieved by any other civil nuclear engineering companies.

“The philosophy of this company has long been that we can only succeed in our chosen markets by excelling and delivering the highest quality and most technically innovative products available.

“It is my belief that the skills and resources required for the UK to lead the world in civil nuclear are right here, but we need to be better than any other nation to succeed. This funding allows us to make investment where progression demands it.

“Our position in the global nuclear supply chain is as one of a handful of companies capable of manufacturing highly technical large-scale components within a nuclear power station.”

Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, announced the new funding awards to allow companies to take advantage of the “huge opportunities” in the nuclear industry, enhance the supply chain and increase opportunities to commercialise new technologies in the nuclear power sector.

Forgemasters’ funding was two of 35 projects from across the country to gain approval and only one of two in Yorkshire to be successful in its application for a total of £18m funding  expected to lever an additional £13m in developing new technologies for the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

The announcement was made alongside the publication of the Government’s nuclear industrial strategy which sets out objectives to develop a strong and sustainable nuclear industry in the UK.

The paper sets out a long-term approach to the opportunities for economic growth and job creation from the nuclear industry, including research and development, reactor newbuild, waste management and decommissioning, as well as operations and maintenance.

It comes in response to a 2011 report from the House of Lords on the UK’s nuclear research and development capabilities and recommendations from the nuclear research and development advisory board.

Britain plans to build up to 16 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear power stations within the next decade, which the report says could create 40,000 new jobs nationally.

EDF won planning approval in March to build Britain’s first new nuclear station in almost 20 years but warned the project would only move forward if it could reach an agreement on the power price.