A new technology to identify weld defects in minutes will save time and cost in high-integrity fabrications for nuclear new build projects and other quality-critical applications.
The technology was developed by the AWESIM (Automated Welding Equipment System Inspection and Monitoring) consortium, led by Cavendish Nuclear Ltd. The consortium included Doosan Babcock Ltd, the Advanced Nuclear Research Centre at University of Strathclyde, the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at University of Sheffield, Peak NDT Ltd, Babcock International Group and Frazer Nash Ltd. The consortium has filed patents on the technology.
The AWESIM disruptive technology is a game-changer for fusion welding as it enables real time detection of defects in fusion welding processes as they occur. It will yield greater schedule certainty, take hours out of the process, help to significantly reduce the incidence of abortive welds, drive productivity up and ensure sustainability is optimised by reducing the energy and materials used in the weld.
As part of its primary function AWESIM gathers high resolution data from several different sensors being used to interrogate the fusion welding process in real time and uses computer algorithms to rapidly analyse the data. This process gives operators an immediate indication of the presence or not of welding defects. The sensors involved include acoustic, laser profiling, cameras and temperature compensated phased array ultrasound among others.
Cavendish Nuclear’s Managing Director, Mick Gornall said: “The technology generated by the AWESIM project marks a step change in the ability to detect defects in welds in real time. Commercialisation and deployment of the technology is now being planned so that users can make a significant contribution to Net Zero 2050.”
Cavendish Nuclear’s Head of Innovation and Technology, Tony Burnett said: “The impact of this disruptive technology in the field of high integrity fabrication is expected to be significant”.
“Our AWESIM technology is capable of reducing the time taken between forming a fusion weld and knowing it is free from defects from several hours to minutes. Closing the time taken for feedback between welding and non-destructive weld inspection to such short durations enables significant productivity and sustainability improvements, provides greater schedule certainty so saving time and money while maintaining quality.”
Bert Holt, Director of Nuclear Lifetime Programmes from Doosan Babcock said:
“The AWESIM project has demonstrated the power of collaboration in innovation between the academic and industrial partners in projects enabled by the judicious application of government funding to make a real tangible impact in bringing new, potentially disruptive technology to the market. The extent of the application of the patented AWESIM technology to Nuclear New Build projects such as the future Sizewell C, UK SMR and AMR builds in the UK and similar projects internationally is expected to be great; however, its use in other industry sectors involving high integrity welding, such as the defence and process industries, are likely to be even more significant.”
The consortium members are now working towards a commercial launch of the AWESIM technology.
Image 1: Temperature compensated phased array ultrasound sensor from ANRC, University of Strathclyde
Image 2: AWESIM project test rig at NAMRC, University of Sheffield.
Notes to Editors
- £1,348,000 worth of funding was provided to Cavendish Nuclear by BEIS as part of the Nuclear Innovation Programme Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Phase 2b call. A further £726,000 of industrial support was provided by the industrial partners in the consortium to complete the project.
- Cavendish Nuclear, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Babcock International Group, is a leading nuclear solutions company. Operating in the UK and internationally, we provide our customers with a comprehensive range of critical nuclear solutions across the clean energy, defence and civil decommissioning markets. From the decommissioning of legacy nuclear facilities, through to supporting nuclear generation and new build, our role is to support our customers to address the nuclear legacy and help deliver new build to ensure that nuclear is a key part of the energy solution for meeting the UK’s net zero commitments by 2050. Our priority is supporting our customers to achieve their goals, applying innovation to deliver for them safer, faster, at lower cost.
- The AWESIM project was highly commended in The Engineer magazine “6th Collaborate to Innovate” awards for 2021 (C2I 2021: Manufacturing Technology Shortlist | The Engineer).
- The Automated Welding Equipment System Inspection and Monitoring (AWESIM) project which commenced in April 2020. The AWESIM project has been funded by the BEIS Nuclear Innovation Programme the Phase 2b call on Advanced Manufacturing and Materials.
For further information, please contact: Yvonne Preston: [email protected] / +44116 3662107
Notes to Editors
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