The UK has the capabilities to produce the reactor pressure vessel for Westinghouse’s small modular reactor (SMR) design, according to an independent assessment by the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC).
Westinghouse announced in early March that a manufacturing study to investigate the fabrication of reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) for its SMR in the UK would be carried out through a collaboration with the NAMRC. The RPV is “one of the largest and most demanding parts of any reactor”, they said.
On 15 April, Westinghouse and NAMRC announced that the study had concluded that Westinghouse’s use of UK advanced manufacturing techniques “offers a potential 50% reduction in delivery lead times and offers substantial cost savings to SMR manufacturing”.
Westinghouse senior vice president for new plants and major projects Jeff Benjamin said, “The ability to source locally the steel, forge, machine and then assemble all of the Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor RPV is a significant finding and builds on our unique offering to the UK government”. He added, “We are confident that our innovative approach and ability to localize our supply chain and manufacturing in the UK, further demonstrates our commitment to developing SMR technology in the UK”.
Westinghouse noted, “The UK’s strong nuclear supply chain, as well as Westinghouse’s commitment to SMR technology, would promote economic growth and job creation in the UK’s nuclear industry”.
The NAMRC is a collaboration of academic and industrial partners from across the civil nuclear manufacturing supply chain, and was established in 2012 with the mission of helping UK manufacturers win work at home and worldwide.
NAMRC CEO Mike Tynan said, “The results of this manufacturing study demonstrate the important role that Nuclear AMRC can play in identifying efficiencies within the advanced manufacturing process to significantly reduce capital costs and drive project savings, whilst also highlighting key opportunities for the UK supply chain, which can only benefit the UK economy”.
Westinghouse said the study is “an important part” of its SMR offer to the UK government. Last October, Westinghouse presented a “proposal to partner” in phase two of a study being carried out by the UK government into the nation’s potential use of SMRs. Phase one – an SMR feasibility study commissioned by the government and carried out by the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory – was published in December 2014.
In January, Westinghouse said its Springfields nuclear fuel fabrication facility in the UK had “reached the requirements necessary” for manufacturing fuel assemblies for its SMR. The company said the Springfields plant achieved this “crucial milestone” following a “readiness assessment” based upon fabrication data for two proprietary SMR fuel assemblies produced at its fuel fabrication plant in Columbia, South Carolina, USA.
The Westinghouse SMR is a 225 MWe integral pressurized water reactor design with all primary components located inside the reactor vessel and utilizes the passive safety functionality developed for the company’s AP1000 reactor, currently being built at sites in China and the USA. The SMR design’s reliance on existing technology and the proven licensing basis should likely reduce development time and licensing risk for the reactor.