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Construction Shifts into High Gear on SMRs – ENERGYminute


These translations are done via Google Translate

construction shifts into high gear on smrs energyminute

Courtesy of Interesting Engineering

Not since Michael Scott said Webster’s defined a wedding as “the fusing of two hot metals with a hot torch” has welding been so exciting.

What happened: The world of nuclear power is abuzz with excitement as UK-based Sheffield Forgemasters achieves a remarkable milestone: the welding of a full-size nuclear reactor vessel in just under 24 hours, a feat that typically would take over a year.

Background: For decades, nuclear reactor construction has been limited by bottlenecks, particularly in the welding process, which traditionally requires an extensive amount of time. Until now.

The breakthrough in Local Electron-Beam Welding (LEBW) has the potential to revolutionize the small modular reactor (SMR) industry, transforming nuclear plants from custom-made civil engineering projects into factory-produced commodities.

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  • By recently showcasing the welding of a vessel with 200-mm thick walls and zero defects, Sheffield Forgemasters has highlighted the immense potential of this technology.

Talk nerdy to me: The completion of four thick nuclear-grade welds in just a day was achieved through a high-energy density fusion process that uses a high-powered electron gun operating in a local vacuum.

  • This technology development showcases the potential to limit expensive welding processes and inspections of future SMR construction.

What does this mean for the industry?

For a sector that’s been relatively slow moving, this breakthrough is like a breath of fresh plasma-hot air. Not only does it allow for faster and more efficient construction of SMRs, but it also opens the door to new design possibilities, such as sloping-in and sloping-out techniques to start and finish the welds.

These innovations have the potential to significantly accelerate the roll-out of SMR reactors across the globe.

Zoom out: The UK government has ambitious plans for nuclear energy, including the construction of 15 modular reactors by Rolls-Royce. In a world where innovation and speed are key, LEBW has certainly sparked some excitement.

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