Forgemasters secures R&D funding

Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL) has secured 50 per cent funding from Yorkshire Forward for a £2.7m research and development project to strengthen its hold in global power generation markets.

Due to the continuing demand for fossil-fuelled power stations, SFIL has seen an increasing demand for its generator and turbine rotors — especially in Europe and China.

These forged parts, which typically weigh between 75 and 95 tonnes, have to operate in extremely high temperatures.

The grant from Yorkshire Forward will cover up to half the cost of the two-phase project, which will focus on the cleanliness of the steelmaking process as well as research into ingots and forging tooling at SFIL’s Brightside Lane base in Sheffield.

Dr Jesus Talamantes-Silva, group research and development director at Forgemasters, said: ’The first stage of the project requires fundamental research into the steelmaking process to explore the possibilities of improving steel cleanliness. The second stage will involve using computer simulation techniques to develop new ingot and forge tooling necessary to manufacture these types of larger rotors.’

Turbine rotors are steel shafts, to which the turbine blades are fixed, and which rotate at extremely high speeds. The rotation powers a generator to produce electricity.

SFIL has also been investigating the market for turbine units for nuclear applications. Typically, forgings in this sector weight up to 250 tonnes and the research project could help the company expand its business in the nuclear market.

Investment in the company’s research facility includes a new computer cluster, microscopy equipment and software for performing advanced computer simulation.