R&D centre to grow UK nuclear’s modular manufacturing expertise

A new R&D centre, aimed at bringing the benefits of modular manufacturing techniques to the UK’s nuclear sector, has been launched by the Nuclear AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre).

Based at Cammell Laird’s Birkenhead site, the facility will be used to develop a host of off-site assembly and manufacturing techniques to support the UK’s nuclear new build program.

Modular techniques are already widely used in shipbuilding, aerospace and other safety-critical industries and are thought to hold great promise for the nuclear sector, where they could reduce construction risk and help deliver new power stations to schedule and cost.

With over 1,000m2 of workshop space, the new facility will host specialised machining, joining and assembly equipment to develop and prove modular manufacturing techniques for nuclear applications. Work will address modular manufacturing for new reactors of all sizes, as well as the challenges of decommissioning and waste management.

Andrew Storer, managing director of the Nuclear AMRC, said: “Our new Birkenhead facility extends our capabilities into an area of huge interest and importance to the nuclear industry. Modularisation reduces risk in manufacturing and construction, and will help developers build new power stations on schedule and on budget, meeting our national targets for secure, cost-effective, low-carbon electricity generation.

Cammell Laird is leading research into modularisation through the government funded Fit For Modules project, which is aimed at positioning the UK as a world-leader in modular manufacturing techniques.

Jonathan Brown, managing director of Cammell Laird’s energy division, said: “Modularisation is widely applied on shipbuilding, civil construction and a number of other sectors where it is demonstrated to bring significant benefits in terms of cost reductions and improved schedule performance. We are confident that when applied correctly within the nuclear sector we will see similar benefits.”