Winter 2020

A new nucleus for equipment testing

In early 2019, JFN acquired a large-scale industrial facility at Bower in Caithness (Scotland), to be used to develop a dedicated testing and trials unit, which will enable the testing, development and integration of equipment for large scale projects in a safe (inactive) environment, before being deployed into the active on-site environment.  

This facility is now being put to work in support of the trials and testing of equipment which will be usefor the decommissioning of the Magnox SGHWR reactor core at Winfrith in Dorset. This is the first of the Magnox commercial reactors to be decommissioned. 

The Bower test facility increases JFN’s capacity to carry out large scale trials and testing operations. It is situated conveniently close to Dounreaythe former UK fast reactor nuclear research site in CaithnessThis means it will also be used to provide local accommodation for the NDL (Nuclear Decommissioning Ltd) joint venture company which currently holds one of the five decommissioning framework contractfor the Dounreay site. JFN is one of the four parent bodies of NDL, alongside Shelpey Engineering, WYG and React Engineering 

The Bower team is currently assembling a large-scale test rig in the 60m by 34m rig hall in support of the SGHWR project. Over the next 12 months, extensive remote handling and size reduction trials and testing will be conducted on a mock-up of key components of the Magnox reactor, to ensure all the decommissioning equipment is fully tested and proven before it is deployed south to the SGHWR site in 2022.  

JFN’sproject director Stef Lucas says: 

Bower is ideally suited for a project of this size. It means JFN can comprehensively test the equipment and operations in a safe environment prior to deployment to the nuclear licensed site at Winfrith. We recognise that safety is more than just security these days and this also applies to health. To make sure we are Covid secure in our operations at Bower we are installing accommodation and taking extra steps to make the facility a fully self-contained work bubble. 

A bespoke load testing frame, designed to support Mast Mounted Manipulators (MMMs), has already been installed and has been used to carry out a series of load tests on two of the three MMM units, prior to completion of the assembly operations. Functional testing of these machines will be completed on an integrated test rigIt is expected that everything will be in place by early in the New Year, ahead of a rigorous 12-month trials and testing programme.   

To maintain the integrity of Covid-safe work bubble, JFN has installed a set of Covid-secure self-contained accommodation modules on site to house the teams working at Bower. These units provide safe accommodation for project team members working on the test rig and in Bower’s offices.  

Gareth Purdey, head of projects for JFN says: 

Bower is well placed to become a significant asset for a number of nuclear decommissioning projects and it will be supporting the wider group in other industries operating in this areaIncreasing decommissioning activity at Dounreay, coupled with a resurgence in renewables, means the team at Bower will be working closely with the local supply chain to support a significant number of projects. 

We at JFN are keen to develop test and development collaborations with universities and other academic institutions to ensure that innovation is intelligently developed for practical applications, he adds.  

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