University and Rolls-Royce SMR to set up manufacturing and testing facility

Rolls-Royce SMR is partnering with the University of Sheffield to launch a major new manufacturing and testing facility in South Yorkshire.

The Rolls-Royce SMR Module Development Facility (MDF), which will be housed in the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s existing Factory 2050, is set to manufacture and test prototype modules for small modular reactors (SMRs)

The first phase is worth £2.7m and will be part of a wider £15m plus million package of work that will further de-risk and underpin the Rolls-Royce SMR programme.

SMRs are advanced nuclear reactors that are designed to be factory-built and transported to operational sites for installation.

The technology is seen as a clean energy solution that is easier to deliver, scale and is more affordable than building new larger nuclear power stations.

Each Rolls-Royce SMR could provide enough low-carbon electricity to power a million homes for more than 60 years.

The new facility at the University of Sheffield AMRC will produce working prototypes of individual modules that will be assembled into Rolls-Royce SMR power plants.

The Rolls-Royce SMR programme is UK’s first home-grown nuclear technology for over a generation.

Victoria Scott, Rolls-Royce SMR’s chief manufacturing engineer, said: “Our investment in setting up this facility and building prototype modules is another significant milestone for our business.

“Our factories will produce hundreds of prefabricated and pre-tested modules ready for assembly on site.

“This facility will allow us to refine our production, testing and digital approach to manufacturing – helping de-risk our programme and ensure we increase our delivery certainty.”

The University of Sheffield’s AMRC is a world leader in manufacturing R&D and works with companies of all sizes — including SMEs, start-ups and large-scale manufacturers — to help them improve productivity.

The AMRC’s Factory 2050 is the UK’s first state-of-the-art factory with reconfigurable spaces to enable collaborative research into digital manufacturing, machining technologies and component manufacture.

Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We are very proud that Rolls-Royce SMR has chosen to base its module development facility at our Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s Factory 2050.

“It is a testament to the university’s strengths in clean energy research and innovation, and our unrivalled expertise in developing leading-edge manufacturing techniques.”

South Yorkshire’s Mayor, Oliver Coppard, said: “This  cements South Yorkshire’s position as the leading place to build small modular reactors, a cutting-edge technology which will be a key part of the global transition to clean energy.

“It is also a sign of real confidence in our region’s world-leading advanced manufacturing innovation district which is helping us to create a bigger and better economy in South Yorkshire.

“Being chosen as the home of the new Rolls-Royce SMR Module Development Facility further enhances our region’s reputation as the best place for Clean Tech in the UK and puts us at the forefront of creating a greener future for the UK and beyond.”

Councillor Martin Smith, chair of the Economy, Skills and Development Committee at Sheffield City Council, added: “As a city filled with innovators we’re committed to driving prosperity, this latest announcement from the University of Sheffield is yet another example of our forward-thinking approach.”