"Q1 - Entrance into the Nuclear Submarine Industry
Bret Kugelmass: What is Sheffield known for?
Andrew Storer: The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) is part of the University of Sheffield in the U.K. Sheffield is renowned for steelmaking and has one of the oldest forging facilities in the U.K., if not the world. Andrew Storer is from Derby, a rural town in Derbyshire. When Storer left school, he needed a job for his four year apprenticeship and started working on a power station build in Middlesbrough. His company, Northern Engineering Industries, was acquired by Rolls-Royce and started working for Rolls-Royce through a redundancy program in the submarine industry. Andrew Storer enjoyed both the manufacturing side and mechanical fit-out side, but became interested in the technology side, leading him to pursue a manufacturing engineering and an MBA through his progression at Rolls-Royce. Early on, Storer was an on-site logistics manager in Middlesbrough who was responsible for coordinating incoming trucks with materials for the build. This experience stuck with Storer when he got into the nuclear industry, where one of the biggest problems is on-site construction. When he moved into the submarine industry, Storer worked on a collaboration with the U.S. to help design the current dreadnought reactor which is currently in manufacturing. Storer was one of the first people with the Ministry of Defence to go over and work out this relationship with naval reactors at the Bettis Laboratory in Pittsburgh. The U.K. team learned a lot from U.S. research. Through many conversations, the U.S. couldn’t get over how well the British submarines worked and the way they were maintained, given the small budget by the Ministry of Defence. While the U.S. has spare coolant pumps on board, U.K submarines don’t have any spare pumps. Instead, the operators know the pumps intimately and maintain them very well.
Q2 - Progression Through Rolls-Royce
Bret Kugelmass: What is the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K like when it comes to defense and nuclear?
Andrew Storer: Intellectual property and national security are always challenges, especially with social media, requiring secure office and communication lines. The amount of research in nuclear around the world offers opportunities to efficiently taxpayer money by collaborating with other nations in a secure manner. Andrew Storer brought energy, hard work, and a willingness to get work done to teams that he worked on. During his two years working with the Ministry of Defence, he received his MBA and grew his family. His apprenticeship gave him an understanding in manufacturing and moved to the design team where he was able to manage the design team. Storer then ran one of the five main divisions of Rolls-Royce. Through his experience, he saw the complete life cycle of submarines, from design, to manufacturing, launch, operation, and decommissioning. Storer considers himself competitive, which comes through in his work, but recognized that he needed to use it to his advantage while keeping it in check. That side of that personality can sometimes overpower other people, especially now as Storer is in a more collaborative than competitive space.
Q3 - Challenges of Nuclear Manufacturing
Bret Kugelmass: How did you become the leader of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC)?
Andrew Storer: During his final years at Rolls-Royce, Andrew Storer was the program director of the civil nuclear business which was set up to replicate the submarine program. With the event of the nuclear renaissance coming into the U.K., they set up a small team to take charge of the new nuclear civil industry. The team spent a lot of time overseas in China, Japan, Russia, and France, talking to government about policies and new build. Rolls-Royce was well positioned for supply chain support, but unfortunately, because of the lack of volumes of the same types of products that needed to be manufactured, the business case for Rolls-Royce wasn’t solid. This drove Andrew Storer to see what he could do to solve this challenge. Nuclear has a great place in the energy mix, but it needs to reskill people or support the current skillbase and to grow the manufacturing capability. Storer aims to get better at manufacturing so the U.K. can supply more products. He supports taking people from university and giving them a valuable apprenticeship to prepare them to be leaders for the future, but this is hard to do with a stagnant nuclear sector. The U.K. also needs to have a nuclear export market. The Nuclear AMRC was up and running in 2011, whose facilities have huge capabilities and some of the largest machines in the world. Storer expects to double the size of the team in the next two years and NAMRC is about to open a new center in Derby. NAMRC also has a facility in Birkenhead, which is a collaboration with a member organization, that takes the best of shipbuilding and looks at how to modular build nuclear reactors.
Q4 - Regional Development in the U.K.
Bret Kugelmass: Did the European Union identify different regions that may be revitalized with support?
Andrew Storer: In 1995, the site of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) was a coal mine and the site of Margaret Thatcher and Arthur Scargill’s last stand of the miners’ strike. McLaren Automotive and Boeing are both developing facilities in the region. Many fathers of the people working at NAMRC were miners at the coal mine. A lot of the staff was brought in as locals; the technicians and machinists were in other trades and were brought in to have a job at NAMRC. The sites at Derby and Birkenhead are aimed to replicate the NAMRC headquarters. NAMRC is talking to the Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing and MIT in the U.S., Canadian National Lab, Xinhua National Lab in China, and collaborations with South Korea and Abu Dhabi. Andrew Storer’s mission now is to replicate the research and collaboration of the NAMRC model in other countries to bring down the cost of electricity to bring good, clean energy. He aims to make the center’s agenda sustainable for the long-term. The U.K. government has a Strength in Places Fund that focuses on bringing economical boosts to deprived areas. The NAMRC sites in Derby and Birkenhead support this location-based mission.
Q5 - Current NAMRC Research Projects
Bret Kugelmass: Could you highlight a few projects that the NAMRC is working on to demonstrate some of the efforts here?
Andrew Storer: The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) manufactures innovation in their 8,000sf facility with some of the largest equipment in the world. One project Andrew Storer is proud of focuses on cryogenic CO2 machining, which is a coolant that removes heat during a cutting operation to effectively cut the material. The cutting operation with coolant requires keeping a high temperature in the right conditions, which costs money. Once it has gone all over the machine, the material will be removed, cleaned, and changed to something else. Because of this, there is generally a machine that uses certain fluid and materials to avoid cross-contamination. Using cryogenic CO2 is cleaner, doesn’t require a clean down, the tips last a lot longer, the machine can cut faster and deeper, and the surface finish is better. NAMRC is completing research to make sure the microstructure is not adversely affected by this process. Andrew Storer is also proud of NAMRC’s electron beam welding program. Welding requires preparation, putting the material together and jigged exactly correct, placing an insert, filling the root, and completing a weld. For a six inch or 150 mm weld, which would be used on a pressure vessel, this process takes about 150 days. Over the last two or three years, NAMRC has been completing research for an electron beam welding that does not require machined prepped and has no material added, but instead fuses the material. With this method, the material can be joined together in two hours, compared to 150 days. If the UK embarks on its own national endeavor for small reactors and advanced reactors, these technologies can be time and cost changing if the quantities support the economics.
Q6 - Nuclear Supply Chain Development
Bret Kugelmass: How does the NAMRC get multiple stakeholders involved in technology development?
Andrew Storer: The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) welcomes customers to their facilities to get hands-on time, run the machines, and collaborate. Companies can become a member of the NAMRC; membership fees go on a shelf and is not used for anything other than research. The research board, of which the members are a part, decide which research is done with that money. Multiple massive companies and many SME’s collaborate on new research that couldn’t be done on their own dime alone. The second mission of NAMRC running a program called Supply Chain Development, working with over 800 suppliers in the U.K. Eighty percent of these are SME’s, or small and medium-sized enterprises. NAMRC offers their services and support for free, but the companies invest their time. NAMRC gives these companies an online diagnostic, look at their portfolio and what they want to do, and match their services with nuclear. Once they are determined a good fit, NAMRC visits the supplier and draws together a program of work, a gap analysis effectively. The supplier decides whether to invest in the program and fill the gaps, which will bring a follow-up analysis from NAMRC and connect them into the nuclear industry. This program builds technical capability, but also commercial and project management capabilities and quality standards and systems. There is a disconnect between the customers and the suppliers; this program links the 142 suppliers that have a certificate to win opportunities. The NAMRC tries to advise them on winning business and delivering business as much as being technically fit. After seven years, feedback on this program is that, whether they work in nuclear or not, the program has benefitted them and they won more work in the sector they were working in before. The benefits are spun out across many different sectors, such as petrochemical and aerospace.
Q7 - Future of Nuclear Energy in the U.K.
Bret Kugelmass: Where do you see the NAMRC going for yourself, your country, and the nuclear industry?
Andrew Storer: U.K.’s Secretary of State for Business, Greg Clark, launched the Nuclear Sector Deal. The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) played a very active role in the Deal, in that they co-authored the Deal with various industry partners and the government. It has been well received by industry and government. This deal provides around 200 million pounds of government investment, to be matched by industry, with a lot of focus on research and supply chain development. Andrew Storer firmly believes in the U.K. developing a reactor technology. Storer is positive working with the Department of International Trade and their export trade, looking at the export opportunities and where the technology readiness is. In the next decade, Storer hopes the nuclear renaissance will truly happen in the U.K, with the country able to execute nuclear energy on their own.