A full-scale first-of-its kind mock-up of the main vessels of the U-Battery advanced modular reactor (AMR), revealed yesterday by U-Battery and Cavendish Nuclear, has demonstrated how the reactor can be built using modular techniques. The project was made possible with funding from the UK Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under its Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Programme.
"By building a full-scale model, people get a real sense of what an AMR looks like as well as how it can be built," U-Battery General Manager Steve Threlfall said. "It also enabled us to determine the requirements for the concept design and justify the nuclear power plant’s operational safety case. This is why the mock-up is essential to the delivery of what will be our first power plant.
"Our aim is to take advantage of the economies of scale used in advanced manufacturing and modularisation settings and production line assembly techniques to produce this new generation of AMR technology, which will make a valuable contribution to the UK’s decarbonisation efforts, and, in turn, help deliver Net-Zero."
The project to build the mock-up, which includes the reactor vessel, the intermediate heat exchanger vessel, and the u-shaped connecting duct, began in February 2020, Threlfall said at an event held at Cavendish Nuclear's Whetstone facility in Leicestershire yesterday.
U-battery is an advanced small modular reactor based on proven high-temperature gas cooled reactor technology, using highly accident tolerant TRISO fuel and delivering a scalable output from 10 MW thermal (4 MW electrical) with a footprint of 350 square metres. Each unit is projected to cost about GBP50 million (USD68 million).
The reactor's high-temperature output of 710°C means it is ideally suited to provide a sustainable source of process heat for difficult-to-decarbonise industrial processes, the company says. Its cogeneration capabilities mean it can provide a locally embedded and reliable source of heat and power, for example at mining sites and in off-grid remote communities. "Sizeable" prospective markets have been identified in the UK and in Canada.
"Working on this exciting phase of the U-Battery development has allowed our team of experienced nuclear engineers, professionals and trusted supply chain to demonstrate the wealth of their experience gained from supporting the UK Advanced Gas Reactor fleet, in combination with up to date modularisation techniques, which have more recently been used in decommissioning projects, to deliver this first of a kind advanced modular reactor mock up," Cavendish Nuclear New Build & Advanced Nuclear Technologies Business Director James Ewence said.
As well as Cavendish Nuclear, U-Battery's supporting organisations include BWXT Technologies Inc, Costain, Kinectrics, Jacobs, the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC, Rolls-Royce, the University of Manchester and Urenco.
U-Battery is participating in the second phase of the UK Government's Advanced Modular Reactor Competition, through which in July 2020 it was awarded GBP10 million of funding to initiate design and development work.