The US Department of Energy (DOE) is contributing $2.5 million to a four-year Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)-led project ($8.1 million total) to investigate and demonstrate new manufacturing and fabrication technologies with a goal of producing the ASME-code acceptable critical assemblies of a two-thirds scale demonstration small modular reactor (SMR) reactor pressure vessel (RPV).
EPRI is working with a number of US manufacturers to demonstrate six critical advanced manufacturing technologies with the ultimate objective to reduce the cost by 40% and the schedule by 18 months for full-size SMR reactor pressure vessels.
Several of these advanced technologies have been developed on a small scale to produce high quality components with comparable or better material properties relative to castings and forgings, and may also be considerably less expensive.
The first of these technologies is powder metallurgy/hot isostatic pressing (PM/HIP), which provides near-net shaped components and which would replace many “large” forging operations previously used. Other technologies included in this project are:
electron beam welding, which can reduce welding time by 90% over conventional welding processes and methods;
diode laser cladding, which can reduce the volume of material required for cladding by 75%;
bulk additive manufacturing, which can add attachments to the reactor vessel;
advanced cryogenic machining, which can reduce machining time by 4X over conventional machining methods; and
elimination of dissimilar metal welds (DMWs), which will have a significant impact on future inspections and the costs associated with such inspections.