Heavy engineering company granted strategic nuclear status

Sheffield Forgemasters, has been awarded a strategic qualification, positioning the company to support development and delivery of the next generation of civil nuclear power plants.

The company’s nuclear qualification came after an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Section III Division I NCA 3300 (NCA 3800), NCA 4000 and NQA-1 Code survey and audit, recommended it for Material Organisation (MO), and welding (NPT) accreditations.

Sheffield Forgemasters is the only company in the UK capable of manufacturing reactor vessel components for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). This, coupled with its ASME status, gives it crucial capability in delivery of this advanced power-generation technology.

Ian Nicholls, group technical director, said: “We undertook the ASME audit in November and have now received confirmation that the audit recommendation has been approved by the committee.

“The accreditation is a huge development with heightened requirements and protocols embracing all our processes, employees and selected sub-suppliers.”

The qualification comes soon after the company unveiled a ground-breaking development in the acceleration of welding for large nuclear vessels, using Electron Beam Welding to reduce more than a year’s worth of manual welding to less than 24 hours.

As well as being the sole UK supplier of large, nuclear-grade forgings and castings, Sheffield Forgemasters is now one of the only UK companies qualified for fabrication of the main components within a civil nuclear power plant.

Nicholls added: “The ASME accreditation, coupled with our development of Electron Beam Welding for large diameter, nuclear grade vessels, places Sheffield Forgemasters at the pinnacle of development for Small Modular Reactors and presents significant possibilities for the UK’s domestic nuclear new-build programme.”

Sheffield Forgemasters, which first gained ASME accreditation as a Nuclear Materials Organisation in 1992, will now continue its work to advance manufacturing technologies for the next generation of SMR civil nuclear power plants.