Sellafield Ltd, the company that runs Europe’s largest and most complex nuclear site in the UK, has announced it is investigating the use of Additive Manufacturing to help them decommission some of the most potentially hazardous nuclear plants in the world.
“The plants at Sellafield are unique and many of them have been used for far in-excess of their original design specification,” stated Donna Connor, Head of Technical Capabilities at Sellafield Ltd. “Our Magnox Reprocessing plant, for example, was originally designed to work for 20 years and now, 50 years later, it is still recycling spent nuclear fuel from power stations around the UK.”
“With these older plants lots of parts are one-off designs, which makes it both expensive and time consuming to replace parts. If something has to be custom manufactured it could mean a plant is closed down until a part is replaced, and even if we can avoid closing the plant temporarily, we know for certain that the part will be expensive. Using this technology can revolutionise the way we do things, saving time and money,” added Connor.
Sellafield Ltd has already started using the technology, and reportedly saved £25,000 by using 3D blue-LED scanning technology to design a new lid for a 40 tonne Solid Waste Export Flask, which is used to ship radioactive sludge across the Sellafield site.
A recent conference was held at the site to look at more ways in which they can utilise the latest metal AM technology. “The nuclear pioneers of the 1940s and 1950s developed these plants at Sellafield, and were world leaders in their day. My team today has the chance to be the world leader once again, but this time in terms of decommissioning and waste storage,” stated Tony Price, Managing Director of Sellafield Ltd.
“These emerging technologies are hugely exciting for the future legacy of our nation and the nuclear sector, and I’m proud to be able to say we were the first nuclear company to adopt them. It proves that Sellafield Ltd can stay at the forefront of the world’s nuclear industry.”
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