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Sheffield Forgemasters wants to revolutionize manufacturing

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Sheffield Forgemasters wants to revolutionize manufacturing

The production of mini nuclear power plants is still considered a challenge, as the welding process of reactor vessels can take up to a year. “Sheffield Forgemasters”, a British industrial company, now claims to have achieved a breakthrough: the containers should be welded together in 24 hours with significant cost savings.

Different perspectives on Small Modular Reactors

The mini-nuclear power plants with their smaller nuclear reactors are intended to provide more safety and flexibility at lower costs than conventional nuclear power plants. The Czech Republic is not the only country within the EU that is interested in Small Modular Reactors (SMR). Only recently did the Prague government announce that it wanted to build up to four new nuclear reactors in the south of the country – the plan has been heavily criticized by Austria. As of today, according to pressetext.at, SMRS are used in Romania and South Korea as well as in the Netherlands and especially in the United Kingdom. Apart from which country’s stance on the use of mini-nuclear power plants, the topic is wildly controversial anyway, because critics see some dangers in nuclear power, such as potential reactor accidents and significantly more nuclear waste, according to a study from the scientific journal PNAS proven.

Sheffield Forgemasters locates years of development lead

No matter how you feel about SMRs, the fact is that they are manufactured under the highest quality standards. Welding the reactor vessels together is particularly important. They serve as the primary confinement agent for the nuclear fuel and nuclear fission components, enabling a controlled nuclear reaction. For this process, the British company Sheffield Forgemasters claims to have developed a new technology that can be used to weld together 365 times faster. Previously, it took up to a year to complete the welding process on the containers. Now this should be done in one day. This is a breakthrough for the production of mini nuclear power plants and a global leap in welding technology, the company said in a press release. In particular, stakeholders could reconsider the economic viability of SMRs.

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Expensive welding processes for SMEs should become unnecessary

The so-called “Local Electron-Beam Welding” (LEBW) is intended to make potentially expensive welding processes unnecessary by, in simple terms, welding two metal parts together using an electron beam. According to Sheffield Forgemasters, the reactor vessel, which was created “without defects”, has a diameter of three meters and 200 millimeters thick walls and is believed to be the first successful pilot to produce four thick nuclear-grade welds. The company not only wants to produce mini nuclear power plants faster and cheaper in the future, but also explicitly emphasizes that cost-intensive welding processes could soon be a thing of the past.

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