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Monday, Apr 15, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.


British engineering firm cuts SMR welding time down from 1 year to 24 hours

‘Breakthrough’ and ‘total game changer’ were some of the comments circulating on social media regarding the development

British engineering firm cuts SMR vessel welding time down from 1 year to 24 hours
The first SMR vessel welded by the firm within 24 hours. Photo credit: Sheffield Forgemasters

The state-owned British engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters has found a way to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to weld a small modular reactor vessel. It is being described by many as a breakthrough for the nuclear industry.

The company announced its accomplishment this week. Sheffield claims it has reduced the time involved in welding one of the advanced power units from one year to 24 hours.

The firm says it has pioneered the industrialization of local electron-beam welding. Sheffield started experimenting with the technology in 2015 with support from the government agency Innovate UK. It uses an electron gun to melt and fuse components.

“We are delighted to have reached a significant milestone in assembling a nuclear vessel demonstrator, using electron beam welding for the first time at this scale,” Research, Design and Technology Director Jesus Talamantes-Silva said, “with 100 per cent success and no defects.”

Michael Blackmore, a senior engineer and project lead from the company, says Sheffield’s method could dramatically speed up the roll-out of SMRs in the UK and abroad.

“The implication of this technology within the nuclear industry is monumental, potentially taking high-cost welding processes out of the equation,” Blackmore said.

The United Kingdom recently unveiled plans to quadruple its nuclear capacity by 2050. The country also plans to invest over half a billion dollars in high-assay, low-enriched uranium production needed for SMRs and other next-generation power units.

Read more: Stallion Uranium completes extensive geophysical survey on ATHA Energy joint venture property

Read more: ATHA Energy adds seasoned exploration and corporate affairs managers to its team

SMRs key for future UK power generation

Sheffield was acquired by the UK Ministry of Defence in 2021. The firm is primarily a steel supplier, serving the oil and gas, nuclear and defence industries, among others. Furthermore, it is the only company in the country capable of manufacturing large forgings for small modular power units.

Last month, Sheffield appointed Gary Nutter as its new CEO. Nutter is a former Managing Director at Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC (LON: RR) with an extensive career in aerospace and other industries.

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce is currently aiming to build 16 SMRs in the UK with up to 10 complete by 2035.

There are currently about 60 different nuclear power units under construction throughout the globe, 25 of which are in China. The demand for uranium fuel has risen immensely as a result, alongside the price of the commodity.

These trends have prompted an accelerated rate of uranium exploration to meet future demands.

In Canada, ATHA Energy Corp. (CSE: SASK) (FRA: X5U) (OTCQB: SASKF) has taken the lead in this regard. The company is currently finalizing its acquisition of two other influential operators to create an explorer with a vast land package in the country’s top uranium mining jurisdictions.


ATHA Energy is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage


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