Nuclear tie-up boost

South Yorkshire’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre could benefit from a ground breaking agreement between Japanese nuclear reactor designer Hitachi and Rolls-Royce.

The agreement was announced after it was revealed that Hitachi had acquired Horizon Nuclear Power, the stalled project to build up to six nuclear reactors in the UK.

Under the deal, the two companies will explore how Rolls-Royce can support Hitachi by providing high-value added manufacturing, engineering and technical services.

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said the deal with Hitachi meant there would be a need to develop more advanced manufacturing techniques and that is likely to result in more work for the Nuclear AMRC, right, which was created by Sheffield University in collaboration with Rolls-Royce.

News of the agreement came after the government revealed details of a £37.1 million Regional Growth Fund award to the Nuclear AMRC to support its a programme of supplier development and manufacturing research.

The agreement is unlikely to have an immediate impact on Rolls-Royce’s Project PoWeR, which involves building a factory the size of almost three football pitches close to the Nuclear AMRC on South Yorkshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Project PoWeR secured planning permission from Rotherham Council at the end of August and will create 180 hi-tech jobs in South Yorkshire, making giant pressure vessels, standing 23 metres high and weighing in at 140 tonnes, for the next generation of pressurised water reactors for civil nuclear power stations.

The first of those vessels could be made at the new factory in 2015 and will be destined for reactors being built for EDF, the French-based company that is one of the largest energy suppliers to UK businesses and homes.

Hitachi’s plants are based on boiling water reactors as opposed to the pressurised water reactor technology that EDF is using.

Although boiling water reactors operate at about half the pressure and lower nuclear fuel temperatures than pressurised water reactors, a boiling water reactor needs a much larger pressure vessel than a Pressurised Water Reactor producing similar amounts of power.