Shipyard completes nuclear test rig linked to future diversification plans

  • April 28, 2021

Cammell Laird has completed the design, manufacture and installation of an innovative test rig that will be used in the design of future nuclear reactors.

It is aimed at re-establishing the UK as a world leader in thermal hydraulics research.

The new Thermal Hydraulic test rig, which is seven metres tall, five metres wide and 2.5 metres deep, was built for the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) as part of Project Faith (Fuel Assembly Incorporating Thermal Hydraulics) by experts at the Birkenhead shipyard.

The project aims to use the build of the experimental rig as a model for proving the facility’s modular construction techniques in the nuclear industry.

Jamie Willgress, project manager at Cammell Laird, part of the Project Faith team, said: “Our expertise in the block build fabrication of ships was instrumental to this project and we’ve been able to share considerable best practice from our work constructing some of the worlds’ most high profile vessels, including the RRS Sir David Attenborough and the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers.”

Cammell Laird built the flight deck for the Queen Elizabeth which was assembled at the Rosyth shipyard on the east of Scotland. The yard is investigating work in the nuclear sector, as well as the offshore renewable energy industry.

Mr Willgress added: “Modular construction will improve the delivery of nuclear projects in the future and revolutionise the way nuclear plant is constructed, so this is an incredibly important project to be part of.“

Designed to circulate water around a pipe loop, the stand alone rig enables different test sections to be installed to study the impact of flowrates and temperature on the flow regime in the geometry and workings of a nuclear reactor.

The rig will be used by scientists at the National Nuclear Laboratory to collect data that will inform future nuclear reactor design and help to deliver a more robust talent pipeline to support the UK nuclear industry.