Nuclear fuel workers on the Fylde were given a boost for the future when a key project passed a vital milestone.
Westinghouse Electric Company announced that the company’s Springfields facility near Salwick has reached the requirements necessary to manufacture Westinghouse Small Modular Reactor fuel.
The company said it was an important step in Westinghouse’s proposed partnership with the UK government to deploy SMR technology – a move that would advance the UK to becoming a global provider of the latest nuclear energy technology.
Mick Gornall, managing director, Westinghouse Springfields, said: “Manufacturing Westinghouse SMR fuel at Springfields will secure the future of a strategic national asset of nuclear fuel manufacturing capability and safeguard highly skilled and highly paid UK jobs – something that no other SMR technology provider currently offers.”
Springfields achieved this crucial milestone following a readiness assessment based upon fabrication data for two proprietary SMR fuel assemblies manufactured at the company’s Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in the US.
Jeff Benjamin, senior vice-president, New Plants and Major Projects said: “Our programme is mature and ready to support the global SMR market, as evidenced by our ability to integrate bona fide reactor and fuel technology for the Westinghouse SMR programme, which has been proposed for the UK government.”
Small modular reactors are nuclear power plants that are smaller in size (300 MWe or less) than current plants (1,000 MWe or higher).
These smaller, compact designs are factory-fabricated reactors that can be transported by truck or rail to a nuclear power site and would therefore be more flexible than the big existing power plants.
It is thought that the smaller reactors would be used in the future to complement the larger electricity generating ones, perhaps to supply combined heat and power to specific locations.
Springfields has made reactor fuel since the 1940s.
It has supplied Advanced Gas Cooled reactors and Light Water reactors and is in line for producing the fuel for the new pressurised water AP 1000 reactors which could be built at the Moorside facility at Sellafield.