Rolls-Royce SMR is setting up a facility in Sheffield in the UK to both manufacture and test prototype modules for its small modular reactors (SMRs). The Rolls-Royce SMR Module Development Facility located at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s (AMRC’s) existing Factory 2050 facilities – will produce working prototypes of the individual modules that will be assembled into Rolls-Royce SMR power plants.

The first phase valued at £2.7m ($3.4m) will be part of a £15m package of work. Rolls-Royce SMR’s Chief Manufacturing Engineer Victoria Scott noted: “Our factories will produce hundreds of prefabricated and pre-tested modules ready for assembly on site. This facility will allow us to refine our production, testing and digital approach to manufacturing – helping de-risk our programme and ensure we increase our delivery certainty.”

Image: Interior of the new research facility (courtesy of Rolls-Royce SMR)

AMRC has 120 industrial partners including Rolls-Royce, Boeing, McLaren, Airbus and BAE Systems. It collaborates with industry and experts to develop and de-risk innovative solutions for companies across the globe, leading manufacturing towards a smart, sustainable and resilient future. AMRC fosters collaborations and partnerships between industry, academia and government to deliver cutting-edge research, development and innovation. It has specialist expertise in digital manufacturing, machine learning and artificial intelligence, composites, casting, automation and robotics, subtractive manufacturing, additive manufacturing, design and prototyping, testing and training.

The Rolls-Royce SMR design is a three loop PWR with an output of 470 MWe derived from 1,358 MWt. The Rolls-Royce SMR concept is centred on modularisation of reliable and proven technology, allowing maximum use of the factory environment to combine standard components with advanced manufacturing techniques. The factory-built modularisation approach is expected to drastically reduce the amount of on-site construction while its compact footprint and modular design means it can be located alongside energy intensive industrial processes.

The Rolls-Royce SMR design is currently progressing through Generic Design Assessment in the UK. It is one of six SMR designs selected in October by Great British Nuclear on a shortlist for the UK’s SMR selection competition. The aim is for a final investment decision to be taken in 2029.