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Research from Vulcan could play a part in UK Small Nuclear Reactor project involving Rolls-Royce


By Jean Gunn

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Rolls-Royce believes a UK small modular reactor programme has the potential to deliver energy security, jobs, sustainable value, a robust supply chain, exports and low carbon technology.
Rolls-Royce believes a UK small modular reactor programme has the potential to deliver energy security, jobs, sustainable value, a robust supply chain, exports and low carbon technology.

A consortium led by Rolls-Royce is seeking to secure £300 million in funding as it prepares to make an application to build small modular nuclear reactors.

The design is believed to have benefited from experience gained from manufacturing and operating pressurised water reactors tested over the years at Vulcan, Dounreay.

Asked to comment on the local site, an establishment spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: “Rolls-Royce has decades of experience designing, building, operating and decommissioning small nuclear reactors and is the only company in the UK with that end-to-end capability.

"While there is clearly a capability benefit, the compact power station has a reactor that is of a different design, separate from that used in the defence propulsion part of the business; however, we continue to assess all the resources available to Rolls-Royce and will engage at the right time should this be necessary.”

The latest design of the compact nuclear power station was revealed earlier in May with the first phase of the project completed on time and under budget.

The consortium behind the UK Small Modular Reactor (SMR) project has also announced it is aiming to be the first design to be assessed by regulators in the second half of 2021 in the newly-opened assessment window, which will keep it on track to complete its first unit in the early 2030s and build up to 10 of the reactors by 2035.

As the power station’s design has adjusted and improved during this latest phase – with more than 200 major engineering decisions made – the team has optimised the expected power capacity, without additional cost, from 440 megawatts (MW) to 470MW.

The envisaged technology can produce nuclear power in a new way anywhere in the world, solving the conundrum of how to create affordable energy, and more of it, with a lower carbon footprint.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed SMRs as part of his 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution” last year.


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