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Sheffield Forgemasters joins UK Xe-100 deployment effort

Sheffield Forgemasters, X-energy and Cavendish Nuclear have signed a memorandum of understanding on collaborating to explore opportunities around the deployment of a fleet of Xe-100 high temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the UK.

X-energy of the USA and Cavendish Nuclear – a UK subsidiary of Babcock International group – will tap into Sheffield Forgemasters’ decades of experience in the development of nuclear forgings and castings with plans to build up to 40 Xe-100s across the UK.

“Following the key step forward recently made by Great British Nuclear (GBN) to boost UK nuclear power generation through small modular reactor (SMR) development, GBN is also developing a route to market for other technologies, including advanced nuclear and a consultation will be published this autumn,” said Dominic Ashmore, Head of Strategy and Business Development – Clean Energy at Sheffield Forgemasters. “The UK’s civil nuclear development is part of our business strategy and this MoU is the latest in a line of agreements that we have signed with a number of SMR companies looking to deploy in the UK market.

“Our work with X-Energy and Cavendish Nuclear will provide specialist engineering services, support and components including forgings, to the UK Xe-100 deployment programme,” he added. “Sheffield Forgemasters will undertake a detailed review of the Xe-100 forgings and look to facilitate more definitive cost estimates and production plans.”

“We’re delighted to be collaborating with Sheffield Forgemasters, which is a world-renowned industry leader in its field,” said Carol Tansley, vice president of UK Nuclear New Build at X-Energy. “Our technology will be the first small modular reactor operational in the US and we want to build on that progress by moving forward quickly with our UK programme.

“In delivering that fleet we want to maximise the involvement of the UK supply chain as part of our target to achieve 80% by value UK content, and the MoU with a company with the experience and capabilities of Sheffield Forgemasters is a crucial step in that journey.”

The Xe-100 is a Generation IV advanced reactor design which X-energy says is based on decades of HTGR operation, research, and development. Designed to operate as a standard 320 MWe four-pack power plant or scaled in units of 80 MWe, it is engineered to deliver reliable and load-following grid-scale power to electricity systems and to pair seamlessly with renewables. At 200 MWt of 565°C steam, the Xe-100 is also suitable for other power applications including mining and heavy industry.

In December 2021, then UK energy minister Greg Hands announced that HTGRs had been selected as the preferred advanced reactor technology for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development & Demonstration Programme. The programme counts on GBP170 million (USD210 million) of government funding from a GBP385 million package intended to accelerate development of highly flexible nuclear technologies.

In May 2022, Cavendish Nuclear signed an MoU with X-energy to act as its deployment partner for HTGRs in the UK. The two companies have applied to the UK’s Future Nuclear Enabling Fund to support a Generic Design Assessment of the Xe-100 SMR and also supply chain development for the first proposed project.

Source: World Nuclear News