UK’s Rolls-Royce SMR is challenging industry to come up with a suitable digital technology for monitoring and data collection during the transport of modules used to construct its small modular reactor (SMR). It is offering a contract worth up to £100,000 ($127,000) for the winner with an opportunity to supply systems, techniques, technology and services to its programme, which expects to deploy a fleet of Rolls-Royce SMRs worldwide.

Rolls-Royce SMR’s ‘factory-built’ SMR-based NPP is proposed as a solution to a global energy crisis – with each plant producing enough stable, affordable, emission-free electricity to power a million homes for at least 60 years. UK Rolls-Royce envisages its factories producing hundreds of prefabricated and pre-tested modules ready for assembly on site into a complete power station, which would significantly reduce cost and time compared with large ‘gigawatt’ scale NPPs.

The challenge is being launched in partnership with Innovate UK Business Connect through its Innovation Exchange programme. It will seek proposals on how to track the modules throughout their journey from the factory and monitor changes in real time.

“Our modular approach is unique within the nuclear industry but is widely used and well proven across the oil and gas and renewables sectors,” said Greg Wilkinson, Rolls-Royce SMR’s Research & Technology Manager. “We want to use the latest digital technology to ensure the quality of our prefabricated and pre-tested modules as they arrive on site for assembly into the finished power station. This is a chance for specialists in the nuclear industry, and much further afield, to come on board and use their expertise on our ‘once in a generation’ project… We are looking for the best innovation that the UK has to offer.”

Rolls-Royce SMR has received UK Government funding of £210m as part of Phase 2 of the Low-Cost Nuclear Challenge Project, administered by UK Research & Innovation. This has been supplemented by £280m of private capital. The aim of this Government support is to accelerate the Rolls-Royce SMR design and pass at least Step 2 of the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) regulatory process carried out by the nuclear industry’s independent regulators – The Office for Nuclear Regulation, Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.