Dallas-based Jacobs is to provide cutting-edge technical support for two companies whose work developing new nuclear power reactors has secured UK government research funding. 

Jacobs’ nuclear laboratories in Warrington, UK, will carry out research and development work into new technologies for advanced manufacturing qualification under contracts with U-Battery Developments Ltd and Westinghouse Electric UK, which have successfully progressed to Phase 2 of a competition run by the UK’s government Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to promote technological innovation. BEIS is investing £40m to develop designs for Advanced Modular Reactors that will generate low-cost electricity by introducing novel cooling techniques and off-site factory fabrication.

Jacobs expects to be working across a wide spectrum of research into materials performance and qualification, digital design and manufacturing techniques, and structural design codes and standards.

For U-Battery, a modular reactor being developed by Urenco, Jacobs will deploy its expertise in high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor technology to lead concept design work on the reactor and primary systems, control, instrumentation and autonomous operation, as well as providing safety, environmental and human factors analysis and support.

For the Westinghouse lead-cooled fast reactor, Jacobs is carrying out structural materials, corrosion and mechanical testing, which are key technical issues for reactors operating at temperatures above 500°C. Jacobs is also creating new experimental facilities for static corrosion, creep and fatigue testing with exposure to liquid lead at up to 800°C. The aim is to examine the effect on mechanical performance and to identify suitable structural materials for further studies by Westinghouse.

Jacobs will receive grant funding directly from BEIS to develop innovative, technology-enabled mechanical testing methods so that advanced manufacturing technologies and materials can be accredited for use in future reactor plants. This will advance the state-of-the-art methods by introducing non-contact capture and measurement systems, reducing both the numbers of tests required and the time needed for evaluation, and, importantly, in a safe manner.