UK companies and consortia have been awarded a total of £13 million to help develop innovative technologies for the current and next generation of nuclear power stations.
Breakthroughs to be funded include novel construction and manufacturing techniques, remote monitoring and sensors to reduce the need for people to enter radioactive areas - and an ocean-imaging system to stop jellyfish blocking cooling water intakes.
The funding is part of a joint initiative between Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that aims to stimulate the UK's civil nuclear power sector.
Most of the funding goes towards 15 collaborative R&D projects, although a further 26 smaller-scale feasibility studies are also benefiting,
"These proposals, and the consortia behind them, will help our civil nuclear industry set new standards in safe and smart operation," said Innovate UK Chief Executive Iain Gray.
NDA Head of Technology, Prof Melanie Brownridge, added: "Our R&D strategy is very focused on developing innovative technologies that support our clean-up mission. Joint funding initiatives such as this greatly increase the investment potential across the whole nuclear sector and also, importantly, bring research partners together collaboratively in the drive for progress and creative scientific thinking"
Nottingham-based Caunton Engineering Ltd is heading up a project on steel concrete modular construction that received almost £940,000 in funding.
Another supply chain project will use the novel 'near net shaping' process to cut manufacturing costs of large nuclear plant components, while developing a UK-based supply chain. This technology develops large high-integrity structures in a single piece without the need for joining techniques such as welding. It is led by TTI Group of Luton and received over £560,00 in funding.
EDF Energy is leading a project on the influence of creep and geometry on strength of irradiated graphite component, which received ~£700,000.
SmartScan projct aims to develop new detector technologies that will allow cheaper and more sustainable analysis of nuclear waste materials. This project, brings together Symetrica, an SME active in the Homeland Security Market, with Canberra UK, a leader in the Civil Nuclear Industry.
received a ~£950,000 grant.
Another project, ViridiScan received ~£330,000 to develop a novel mobile NDT decommissioning sensor that will provide on-site laser analysis of contaminated samples surfaces in both open and confined spaces. The project is led by the Surrey-based Viridian Partnership.
The Hazmelt project, led by Glass Technology Service, Sheffield, received just over £1 million in funding. It aims to develop a novel design of electric melting furnace to allow cheaper and more effective vitrification of intermediate level waste types.
Photo: Laser cutting (Source: NDA)