New Nuclear Manufacturing (NNUMAN)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials


The increase in energy needs around the world has led to a large rise in carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. Meeting this growing energy need in a way that is safe, cost effective, secure, and uses low carbon technologies is an international priority. Because nuclear power is low carbon it will continue to be an important part of the international energy mix. Today, around 60 nuclear power stations are being built in 14 countries with more than 150 planned and a further 340 proposed. The Government has highlighted the UK's commitment to a safe and secure energy supply and has set an ambitious target of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. New nuclear power stations will therefore have an essential role in delivering our future energy, and preparations are already in place to build 12 new nuclear reactors around the country. Some experts think that even more low carbon nuclear energy will be needed to meet both our energy demands and our carbon emissions targets.

With the number of nuclear power stations increasing around the world, there is an opportunity for UK companies to manufacture parts of the reactor system, including pressure vessels, internal supporting structures and piping as well as the nuclear fuel. In order to do this safely, and to compete commercially with other companies around the world, research is needed to develop faster and cheaper ways of manufacturing nuclear components that are still of the highest quality and will last for up to 60 years in power stations.
The New Nuclear Manufacturing (NNUMAN) programme will perform the research that will drive the development of new manufacturing approaches for nuclear components and fuels to UK manufacturing companies who can then compete with international companies for manufacturing business.

The main aim of NNUMAN is to introduce major improvements to the manufacturing processes used for nuclear components and fuels by:

1. Creating new ways to join components. This will develop joining methods that are based on traditional arc-welding, lasers and solid-state (friction) methods. These will be designed using a combination of computer modelling and experiments for both components and fuels.

2. Improving the practicality of machining of large and heavy components using indoor Global Positioning Systems (GPS) that can improve accuracy, lasers that can accelerate machining, and small movable robots and spindles in a "swarm" that can simultaneously perform machining of different parts of a large components.

3. Extending the use of processes that can reduce the energy needed to make components such as fusing powders together at high temperature and pressure in a mould or by carefully depositing layers of molten metal to create complicated shapes with much less need for machining.

4. Developing the understanding of how the manufacturing route affects the way a component or fuel behaves during the lifetime of the nuclear reactor. This is important because manufacturing approaches affect performance. This new understanding will be used to make sure that the quality of manufactured components is high, so that nuclear reactors can operate effectively for many years.

The most improved manufacturing processes developed in NNUMAN will be taken forward to prototype in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre ( and the National Nuclear Laboratory ( so that the UK manufacturing companies can learn the benefits of the new methods and use them in the future. This will help companies to win manufacturing business by making high quality nuclear components and fuels in a cost-effective manner.

Planned Impact

NNUMAN will create impact across four critical areas for nuclear and manufacturing: industrial, policy, academia and the wide public :

First, Industrial impact will be created through the transfer of new manufacturing technologies for nuclear components and reactor fuels to the UK manufacturing supply chain. For structural components, this will be achieved through the Nuclear Advance Manufacturing Research Centre, a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester with over 26 industrial partners including Rolls-Royce, Areva, Westinghouse, Tata Steel and Sheffield Forgemasters and links with over 100 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. For advanced fuel manufacturing, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) managed by The University of Manchester alongside Serco and Battelle, will be the development pipeline for transferring new technologies. By acting as the research engine for nuclear manufacturing, NNUMAN will drive innovation and step-change technologies up the Technology Readiness Scale, enabling:
- An insertion of 'step-change' manufacturing technologies into the UK supply chain;
- A growth in efficiency and cost effectiveness of UK manufacturing companies;
- An increase in the high-level skills entering the expanding manufacturing sector; and
- A raising of the international profile of the UK as a first choice for component and fuel manufacture.

Secondly, the strong links between Manchester and Sheffield and the Office for Nuclear Development and Business Innovation & Skills, within the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Parliamentary Office for Science & Technology, the Royal Academy of Engineering, and Professional Institutes including IoM3, will ensure NNUMAN has a positive influence on manufacturing policy with respect to nuclear components and fuels. Links to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will influence export policy.

Thirdly, NNUMAN will establish an internal network with the wider academic community. Within Manchester and Sheffield this will include, but not limited to: the Materials Performance Centre and Modelling & Simulation Centre and the LATEST-2 programme in Manchester); the Advanced Metallic Materials and Nuclear FiRST DTC at Manchester and Sheffield. Beyond the University partners, this will include the Nuclear Engineering IDC led by Manchester in partnership with Imperial Collage and engaging six other Universities including Sheffield, Leeds, Surrey, Lancaster, Birmingham and Strathclyde. An external network will also be established in nuclear manufacturing to integrate the wider national academic capability, including Bristol and Oxford, through Workshops and Seminars. Links with Prof. Grimes through his role on the Advisory Board will ensure links with the Nuclear Champion (EP/I037644/1) programme.

Finally, NNUMAN will provide benefit to the wider public by contributing to the development of a low carbon economy though the expansion of nuclear power and the introduction of energy efficient, rapid and high quality manufacturing processes for the new nuclear build. Growth in the manufacturing sector linked with nuclear build will create new high quality jobs and NNUMAN will deliver personnel with high level skills to flow into the supply chain with a positive impact on socio-economic development and wealth creation. NNUMAN will enhance nuclear and manufacturing outreach activities at Manchester and Sheffield, including the Advanced Metallic Materials and Nuclear FiRST Doctoral Training Centres, the Nuclear EngD Centre, the LATEST-2 Programme Grant and the EPSRC-sponsored Mantra Lorry at Sheffield.


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Description - We have identified ways of how processing parameters during hot isostatic pressing of nuclear components can have a great effect on the grain boundary character in the material, which in turn has an effect on stress corrosion performance. In other words, we have identified for the first time certain parameters and in fact powder characteristics that effect the performance of the component during service.

- Capability of characterising mechanical performance of small irradiated materials

- Understanding the implication of machining on susceptivity of SCC

- Improving the physical basis of modelling residual stress in weldments
Exploitation Route We have a number of new research programs starting now at different TRL levels that take our work and findings forward. Some of the work will be directly funded by industry, some is funded by EPRI, BEIS and EPSRC.
Sectors Energy

Description The NNUMAN Programme produced an Impact document in November 2016. This is accessible via the website on The Executive Summary from this document is given below: Manufacturing of nuclear components is undergoing a surge of technical development to meet the ongoing need for improvements in process cost and time, whilst maintaining the need for long-term performance and regulatory approval of the finished product. The UK nuclear supply chain is set to benefit from this as the nuclear ordering program in the UK gets underway. The New Nuclear Manufacturing (NNUMAN) programme began work in October 2012 to develop existing and new manufacturing technologies in welding, machining, near net shape and advanced nuclear fuels. In this document we provide examples of where "real world" improvements are emerging from this work and also show how our research has enhanced the scientific basis and understanding of these technologies. In all areas of our work we continue to benefit greatly from the support of UK and overseas colleagues in industry, in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) and other industry research bodies, and in academia. Their involvement in NNUMAN has helped to develop routes to exploitation and the growing technical insights that underpin our work. The NNUMAN community is now well established and looks forward to working on the implementation of new manufacturing technologies into the reactors of the future (including the Small Modular Reactors now being considered for UK deployment) and further developing the material characterisation and modelling that provide the underpinning for the innovative and confident nuclear manufacturing of the future.
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Development of advanced nuclear fuel - BEIS - Phase 2
Amount £555,400 (GBP)
Organisation Government of the UK 
Department Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 12/2022
Description MIDAS - Mechanistic understanding of Irradiation Damage in fuel Assemblies
Amount £7,226,655 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/S01702X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2024
Description AMEC 
Organisation AMEC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Contribution to R&D, trained future staff
Collaborator Contribution funding of PhD students, autoclave testing
Impact Phd students now working for AMEC, enhanced general understanding of their product
Description Areva visiting professorship 
Organisation Areva
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Appointment of visiting Professor, Jean Dhers, a senior technical manager of Areva, to work with NNUMAN, attending Manchester for a week each month. Liaison, setting of our sponsored CDT research studentship.
Collaborator Contribution Advice, materials, intelligence of Areva manufacturing practices, visit to Areva manufacturing facilities
Impact Development of HIP research programs within NNUMAN, including supply of pedigree material. Supply of advice and material for welding development.
Start Year 2013
Description NNL 
Organisation National Nuclear Laboratory
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Contribution to R&D
Collaborator Contribution funding of PhD student
Impact training of staff and PhD students now working for NNL
Start Year 2007
Description Rolls-Royce plc 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
Start Year 2007
Description NNUMAN Technical Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Open House for nuclear manufacturing practitioners, researchers, industry bodies focussed on the four themes within NNUMAN - welding, machining, nuclear fuel and near net shape manufacturing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
Description NNUMAN researchers have taken part in 59 conferences to date and presented their work at 45 conferences to date 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation in international conferences to disseminate the research findings of the NNUMAN Programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016