The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce Lists Sites For New Reactor

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

The headline is a bit misleading, as the site is for a factory to build the reactors.

These paragraphs list the sites.

Rolls-Royce, the engineering company, has shortlisted six sites for a factory that will build its proposed small nuclear reactors.

The constituency of Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is among the locations, which have been whittled down from more than 100 proposals.

The other sites are Sunderland, Deeside in Wales, Ferrybridge in West Yorkshire, Stallingborough in Lincolnshire, and Carlisle.

As Rishi Sunak resigned last night, does that rule out Richmond?

I feel that Rolls-Royce will choose this location with care, as any good company would.

I have a few thoughts.

Will Rolls-Royce Go For Zero-Carbon Manufacture?

If you intend to build large numbers of small modular nuclear reactors, it is not a good idea from a marketing or public relations point of view to release tonnes of carbon in their manufacture.

This page on the Rolls-Royce web site has a title of Destination Net Zero, where this is said.

We have already pledged to reduce emissions from our own operations to net zero by 2030, and to play a leading role in enabling the sectors in which we operate to reach net zero by 2050. Now, we are now laying out our technology pathway and setting clear short-term targets to show how we will achieve those goals.

I am sure Rolls-Royce will go for zero-carbon manufacture.

This will probably mean the site will need to have access to the following.

  • Renewable electricity from wind, solar or hydro.
  • Hydrogen
  • Zero-carbon steel, copper and other raw materials

An external supply of hydrogen may well be the least important, as they recently purchased a German electrolyser developer and manufacturer, that I wrote about in Rolls-Royce To Develop mtu Hydrogen Electrolyser And Invest In Hoeller Electrolyser.

Will The Factory Have A Rail Connection?

A rail connection could have four main purposes.

  • Bringing in raw materials like steel.
  • Delivering manufactured components to site.
  • If the factory is a major source of employment, rail is the greenest way to bring in staff from further away.
  • If large shipments are brought in and delivered by zero-carbon rail, it generally doesn’t annoy the locals.

Note.

  1. The huge Britishvolt gigafactory at Blyth will have a rail connection for the transport of lithium and finished batteries.
  2. Transport of nuclear fuel and waste around the UK is generally done by train, with perhaps the last few miles by truck.

I think it will be very unlikely, that the new factory will not have a rail connection.

Will Power Station Modules Be Transportable By Rail?

Given that in the UK, there will need to be a railhead at or near the power station for fuel and waste, I believe that if modules were transportable by rail, this could give big advantages to the roll-out of the reactors.

If a former Magnox nuclear site like Bradwell is to be home to a fleet of small modular reactors, the electrified railhead is already in place at Southminster station.

The crane and the track probably need a bit of a refurbishment, but overall, it looks in reasonable condition.

If you sell nuclear as zero-carbon, rail is the easiest way to ensure zero-carbon delivery of modules.

The standard loading gauge in the UK is W10, which is 2.9 metres high and 2.5 metres wide.

  • A standard twenty-foot container is six metres long, which must help.
  • W10 gauge allows the transport of standard Hi-Cube shipping containers, which are 9 ft 6 in. high, on flat rail wagons.
  • If the modules can fit into Hi-Cube shipping containers, this would make transport easier everywhere, as all ports and railways can handle these containers.

Would it be possible to fit all components into this relatively small space?

It could be difficult, but I suspect it is possible to achieve, as it would make the reactors easier to sell.

  • Sites would only need to be able to receive Hi-Cube shipping containers.
  • These could be trucked in from a nearby railhead.
  • Containers on a railway are a very secure way of transporting goods.
  • Rolls-Royce has masses of experience in shipping large turbofan engines in standard shipping containers. Some are shipped in very carefully controlled air conditions to minimise damage.
  • Hi-Cube shipping containers can go through the Channel Tunnel.

I am fairly sure, that Rolls-Royce are designing the power station, so that it fits into a number of Hi-Cube shipping containers. It would give other advantages.

  • Smaller components would probably speed up assembly.
  • Smaller components may also mean that smaller cranes could be used for assembly.

There may need to be some gauge enhancement to be able to access some sites in the UK.

  • This article on Rail Engineer, is entitled Showing Your Gauge, and it details how gauge is being enhanced to W10 and W12 in the UK.
  • Network Rail have also published a map, which shows where W10 gauge is possible. Click here to view.

I am fairly certain, that most railways in the world can handle Hi-Cube shipping containers.

Availability Of Staff

Rolls-Royce will obviously opt for a place, where there is good availability of staff.

Conclusion

I feel that any of the sites mentioned could be the ideal place for the factory.

If I had to have a bet, I’d put it the factory at Stallingborough in Lincolnshire.

  • It is close to the Zero Carbon Humber energy and hydrogen hub.
  • There is plenty of space.
  • There is a rail connection.
  • It is close to the Port of Immingham.
  • It is close to British Steel at Scunthorpe.

It is also not that far from Derby by road or rail.

 

 

July 6, 2022 - Posted by | Energy | , , , , , ,

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