Cammell Laird seeks uni help on nuclear project

Birkenhead shipyard and engineering firm Cammell Laird enlists the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre to help deliver a Government nuclear energy project. Tony McDonough reports

Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead. Picture by Tony McDonough


Merseyside shipyard and engineering firm Cammell Laird is tapping into expertise at the University of Liverpool to help it deliver a nuclear energy project for the Government.

At its base in Birkenhead, Cammell Laird is currently in the second phase of the project that will see it transfer its world-class experience of modular shipbuilding to the nuclear energy sector.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is sponsoring a series of studies through its Energy Innovation Programme  to make alternative power generation systems, simpler, safer and more economical to deliver.

As part of this initiative, Cammell Laird submitted a successful bid to develop an onsite facility that would enable it to design, construct, outfit and deliver modular power plant sections – focusing on fuel assemblies for sodium-cooled reactors.

READ MORE: Cammell Laird increases apprenticeships intake by 25%

It has reached a critical risk-assessment phase on the project. The design and build of the facility’s assembly test module, must incorporate a Hazard and Operability Analysis (HAZOP) to assess and address potential, operational risks.

However, due to the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19, Cammell Laird has been unable to carry out the HAZOP tests. So it has turned to the team at the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre, who are devising detailed, virtual, 3D models of the reactor components.

These 3D models will enable the company’s engineering specialists to conduct their HAZOP analysis in the virtual world, avoiding delay and helping to ensure efficient delivery of the project.

Jamie Willgress, energy project manager at Cammell Laird, said: “It’s fantastic that we have this world-leading virtual modelling expertise on our doorstep, at the University of Liverpool.

“Collaborating with academia is an important part of our alternative energy project and the virtual engineering team has provided us with invaluable support during this challenging time.

“Keeping this project on track is exceedingly important to Cammell Laird as we strive to apply our decades of experience in modular shipbuilding to the nuclear sector by upskilling our workforce and developing a centre of excellence here in the North West.”

Once constructed and risk assessed, the assembly test module designed and built by Cammell Laird will be transported to the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) in Workington for testing. The project is being delivered in collaboration with the NNL and GE-Hitachi.

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