SA welding technology to keep a lid on UK nuclear waste



High-tech welding developer K-TIG will design a system to manufacture more than 15,000 storage containers to help clean up UK nuclear waste, the remnants of the Cold War arms race.

The Mile End South company will partner with the UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (Nuclear AMRC) to design, develop and deliver a turnkey robotic welding cell to manufacture nuclear waste containers.

Containers are essential for the successful and safe decommissioning of the Sellafield site on the coast of Cumbria, England, which was built in the 1940s to provide nuclear material for weapons during the Cold War arms race.

Automated robotic manufacturing using K-TIG welding technology meets the exact quality standards required.

K-TIG’s high-speed precision technology, originally developed by CSIRO, welds up to 100 times faster than traditional TIG welding, achieving full penetration in a single pass in materials up to 16 mm thick and generally operates at twice the speed of plasma welding.

The company recently announced a UK expansion and distribution agreement with UK automated welding and robotics manufacturer Key Plant Automation.

Its latest announcement this week is also a milestone in K-TIG’s strategy to play a pivotal role in decommissioning nuclear facilities around the world.

Managing Director Adrian Smith said the Memorandum of Understanding with Nuclear AMRC was another global recognition that K-TIG’s local technology was industry-leading and widely recognized.

“This is an important step in K-TIG’s plans to help countries around the world decommission nuclear facilities,” he said.

“We are demonstrating our sovereign expertise in the storage of nuclear waste. We are an Australian company that has developed cutting edge technology in South Australia that is part of the solution to a problem that many countries are facing. “

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is responsible for the clean-up and waste management of 17 of the UK’s premier nuclear sites.

The facilities include research sites used in the development of the nuclear industry; facilities that once produced nuclear material for the manufacture of weapons; the UK’s first generation of nuclear power plants; and nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities and fuel fabrication plants.

Around 15,000 stainless steel boxes, three meters across, are expected to be needed at Sellafield as part of its $ 2.8 billion (£ 1.5 billion) supply plan currently slated to begin in 2023 or 2024.

K-TIG will finance the development of the welding cell and make it available to AMRC Nucléaire for its demonstration installation.

The company will retain all rights to commercialize the cell and make it available to the global nuclear waste containment device manufacturing industry.

K-TIG will also become a direct player in the manufacture of full-fledged nuclear waste containers, either through joint venture initiatives or through an appropriate value-added acquisition.

“Storage of nuclear waste requires containers that must maintain their integrity for at least 150 years while aiming for 500-year integrity,” said Smith.

“K-TIG technology will deliver this through consistently reproducible high quality welds and the integration of advanced real-time quality inspection capabilities, such as ultrasonic and acoustic sensors.

“We have the skills and capabilities in Australia to provide a solution to this global problem.

According to the International Energy Agency, around 200 commercial reactors are expected to be closed between 2020 and 2040. Across the world, nuclear facilities are aging with two-thirds of reactors 30 years or more.

“Many European companies have sought to enter the nuclear waste storage solutions market,” said Smith.

“However, in this highly competitive and regulated industry, K-TIG leads the competition with rigorous quality standards and the integration of innovative technologies to provide the optimal solution.”

The publicly traded company also expanded into the United States last year.

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