Laser Additive Solutions Ltd, Doncaster, UK, is leading a UK government-funded innovation project to develop high-quality Additive Manufacturing techniques for the civil nuclear reactor sector. The company announced it secured grant funding of £826,633 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and will lead the collaborative R&D project entitled SonicSMR to explore intelligent Additive Manufacturing methods for producing small modular reactor (SMR) components.
The twelve-month project is funded under a £505 million Energy Innovation Programme – ‘Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Phase 2B’ competition. Alongside consortium partners, The University of Sheffield’s Nuclear AMRC, Brunel University’s Brunel Innovation Centre, and specialist SMEs IVY-TECH and Taraz Metrology, the project aims to address the challenges of using metal Additive Manufacturing for nuclear SMR parts.
It will focus on issues such as interlayer adhesion and micro/macro-scale porosities by developing and proving out a method of in-line monitoring and inspection of metal AM components, utilising LAS’s expertise in laser AM equipment integration and component manufacture, coupled with the specialist inputs of the other partners.
Using leading-edge supplementary technologies such as power ultrasonics, optical process monitoring, and artificial intelligence-based automated defect recognition, project SonicSMR will develop a large laser-based AM system suitable for the manufacture of defect-free complex components.
Peter Brown, Managing Director stated, “Advanced small modular reactors are the next step in nuclear energy and have the potential to be a crucial part of tackling carbon emissions and climate change. We are delighted to have been awarded the funding and chosen to lead on this exciting project over the next twelve months.”
The SonicSMR project is one of a number of projects that form part of a £40 million funding package to kickstart the development of next-generation nuclear technologies to supply low-carbon heat, hydrogen and other clean energy and unlock thousands of jobs in the low-carbon energy sector, as part of the Nuclear Sector Deal launched in 2018.
Laser Additive Solutions started their business in Doncaster five years ago; the business, however, has almost thirty years’ combined experience in laser-based metal Additive Manufacturing, precision laser repair, laser-based manufacturing and joining processes. Its customers include blue chip companies operating in aerospace, power generation, transport and military sectors.