New lab will research energy systems of the future

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ENGINEERING giant Amec Foster Wheeler has opened a new laboratory at its Birchwood Park, Warrington base to research advanced energy systems of the future.

The High Temperature Facility, built with a £2m grant from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will provide open access for research organisations to test materials for applications such as Generation IV nuclear fission, nuclear fusion and advanced gas turbines.

An official opening was conducted by Professor Andrew Sherry, chief scientist at the National Nuclear Laboratory, and Greg Willetts, vice president for consultancy in Amec Foster Wheeler’s Clean Energy business.

Willetts hailed the HTF Alliance which brought the project to fruition. He said: “The new laboratory and the HTF Alliance will help to re-establish the UK as a major contributor to advanced technology for new nuclear reactors and other new energy systems.

“The High Temperature Facility will improve our understanding about how materials perform at high temperatures, which is vital in the development of new technologies.”

The opening of the laboratory was attended by VIP representatives of the High Temperature Facility Alliance, a consortium comprising the National Nuclear Laboratory, EDF Energy, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, URENCO, the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, the Universities of Bristol and Oxford, the Open University, and Imperial College London.

Managed by Amec Foster Wheeler and based at the company’s Technology and Innovation Centre at Birchwood Park, Warrington, the HTF will enable researchers to pioneer new understandings, produce data and develop new predictive models that will underpin the selection, manufacture and performance of advanced materials for current and future nuclear reactors and other energy generation technology.

A multi-disciplinary team of researchers, from Amec Foster Wheeler and members of the HTF Alliance, including engineers, materials scientists, chemists and structural integrity specialists, will help in interpreting test data and designing solutions to the most complex problems.   

The HTF is equipped to test materials at up to 1,000°C or in novel and demanding conditions such as pressurised gas and liquid metal.