Through this competition, businesses in the UK can apply for a share of up to £6.6 million to develop innovative new technologies for the civil nuclear sector. The aim is to establish an innovative R&D base for materials and manufacturing and support a strong UK nuclear supply chain.
Proposals should address one of the following themes. Allocated budgets are shown in brackets:
- Nuclear structural materials (£1.5 million).
- Mechanisation and automation of component manufacture (£1.9 million).
- Large scale component manufacture and assembly (£1.1 million).
- Pre-fabricated module development and verification (£200,000).
- Design codes and standards (£300,000).
The competition consists of 2 stages for themes 1 to 3. For themes 4 and 5, the competition will be single stage and applicants will move directly to stage 2.
- Stage 1: technical feasibility studies. For themes 1 to 3, these will last up to 3 months. Contracts are worth up to £25,000. For themes 4 and 5, technical feasibility studies will last up to 24 months. Contracts are worth up to £200,000 for theme 4 and £300,000 for theme 5
- Stage 2: development contracts. These will last up to 20 months. Contracts are worth up to £1.9 million. In total, £800,000 has been allocated for stage 1 and up to £4.2 million for stage 2.
The nuclear manufacturing and materials research programme aims to improve the economic prospects of nuclear power technologies in the UK. It is one of six such programmes prioritised by government and industry. The six programmes are:
- Advanced manufacturing and materials.
- Advanced fuels.
- Reactor design: digital.
- Reactor design: safety.
- Recycling and waste management.
- Nuclear facilities and strategic toolkit.
This competition covers the area of advanced manufacturing and materials only and it aims to stimulate innovation in the civil nuclear sector. The competition will help to establish an innovative R&D base for materials and manufacturing. It covers structural materials, manufacturing technologies and modular construction processes. Projects that develop new technologies or that transfer technology from other sectors are eligible.
The programme is expected to deliver the following benefits:
- An enhanced UK nuclear manufacturing supply chain competitiveness in the growing international nuclear market.
- Allow businesses to maximise the proportion of UK content in high value reactor components for future nuclear new build and SMR production.
- harness the innovation qualities inherent in small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
- Bring modular construction techniques common in other industries into nuclear projects to reduce risk and deliver improved cost and schedule certainty.
Projects must allow industry to take advantage of future national and global opportunities in the nuclear sector. IUK expects all projects to help boost growth and reduce costs in the nuclear industry. This could be through creating jobs for new projects, gaining long term service contracts, exploiting intellectual property ownership or working with international partners.
Although there are no specific exclusions cited within the programme guidelines, those wishing to apply are advised to liaise with the funding provider in the first instance to discuss eligibility.
This competition is open to any type of organisation.
Applicants are encouraged to work with others. Contracts will be awarded to the lead organisation in any application.
Pre start-ups are eligible, but they will need to register as a business if they are awarded a contract.
All applicants will need to show that their proposed idea has a credible and practical route to market.
The remainder of any necessary funds must be secured by the applicant.
Applications must be in one of the following categories:
1. Structural materials
- materials development: identifying potential structural materials, manufacturing processes and testing environments for targeted R&D. These should meet the material requirements of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and selected Generation IV reactors
- materials modelling development: developing advanced modelling approaches, validated against experimental data, that can simulate manufacturing processes. They should also predict the performance of materials in real operational conditions
2. Mechanisation and automation of component manufacture
- solving the challenges caused by introducing advanced and/or automated techniques to the manufacture of nuclear components, particularly for SMRs. Solutions must maintain the quality of components and enable new techniques to be codified to nuclear standards
3. Large scale component manufacturing and assembly
- developing and demonstrating advanced techniques for the precision machining of large, complex, integrated nuclear components, such as SMR modules and large heat exchangers
- developing and demonstrating techniques for large scale metrology, to measure assemblies more quickly and accurately
- developing and demonstrating significantly better techniques to control and mitigate distortion during the machining of large nuclear components
- developing and demonstrating non-intrusive and rapid inspection and measurement techniques. This will enable faster, cheaper and more accurate inspections when integrating large complex assemblies
4. Development and verification of pre-fabricated modules
- developing better, faster, cheaper approaches to the construction and installation of large scale nuclear-qualified plant modules weighing up to 1,000 tonnes
- developing potential solutions for the off-site inspection and verification of critical features within large modules
5. Design codes and standards
- developing a strategy to codify new manufacturing techniques that are relevant to SMR and Generation IV reactor concepts
- engaging with international committees
- developing guidance documents that bring together international nuclear codes and standards