In December 2014, DECC announced £2 million of funding for a new nuclear research and development facility and issued a call for proposals. Last week it announced that Amec Foster Wheeler has been selected to lead this project, which the government hopes will lead the UK into a new age of nuclear progress.
Amec are not alone in this endeavour: they head a consortium including the National Nuclear Laboratory, EDF Energy, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Urenco, the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, the Universities of Bristol and Oxford, the Open University, and Imperial College London.
The new facility, which will be located at Amec’s existing high-temperature facility at Birchwood near Warrington, will support a range of innovative research but the main interest is high-temperature reactors. Specifically, there will be a focus on testing primary and secondary structural components and weld materials at temperatures up to 1000°C. Such conditions could be experienced in a range of future reactors including small modular reactors and other Generation IV designs.
The director of clean energy business consultancy at Amec, Greg Willetts said that the new research facility would help take the British industry back to being “a major contributor to advanced nuclear reactor technology”. This is an aim that Weinberg Next Nuclear very strongly support.