Securing SME space in future marketsCOATED PARTICLE FUELS | ENGAGEMENT | INNOVATION | INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS | NUCLEAR FUEL CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE | SUPPLY CHAIN AND ECONOMY
Through close collaboration with NNL and Westinghouse, SME Teer Coatings Ltd is developing novel coating machinery to support future fuel concepts. Wayne Southall, Sales Director at Teer Coatings, explains how AFCP is enabling his organisation to overcome design challenges and pioneer new UK capability and reach new and future markets.
Translating initial ideas to full-scale production
Teer Coatings has been heavily involved in UK R&D over the last 10 years, with many projects linked to Net Zero. However, as a small company, the transition from R&D to production has remained a challenge for us due to the risks associated with the scale-up of technology.
In particular, our AFCP work required us to develop a means of coating 4.5m fuel rods using magnetron sputtering techniques, but for this we required a new design. Given this was a new area for us, there were challenges with the risks associated with transitioning the technology from R&D to scaled-up production capability.
Reimagining innovative design concepts
The requirement for coating 4.5m fuel rods via magnetron sputtering meant we needed to rethink our current design. This led to a new design concept whereby magnetron strength could be more easily tailored to suit individual applications. This gave us more precise control over magnet strength as we developed smaller but stronger magnets than we previously used.
At this stage, our AFCP work has led to the machine with the ability to coat a range of different coatings. These coatings can then be proven in actual testing. We have not yet developed a coating for the fuel rods – rather, we have developed a means to deposit and test a range a of candidate coatings.
Learning from experience to enable future success
AFCP has enabled us to build our manufacturing capability in ways we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve. Through major investment and collaboration across AFCP’s network – including our work for international organisations such as Westinghouse – we have been developed novel coated fuel cladding techniques that support the UK’s clean energy transition, increase safety margins and have excellent export potential.
The experience we gained from the design challenges posed through AFCP has allowed us to re-think our current design, leading to new concepts and capability within the organisation. Being able to offer our new scale of magnetron sputtering machine is not only a first for us – but for any organisation in the UK. Additionally, the new magnetron design has allowed us to sell much longer magnetron than anything Teers has previously supplied and into new markets.
This new approach will better equip us for building a wider range of machines in the future. In doing so, AFCP has enabled us to open up new, future markets that will strengthen our growth as a company while supporting UK clean energy innovation goals.
AFCP is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) £505m Energy Innovation Programme.