Scottish steel construction system included in US multi-million dollar investment program

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Steel Bricks, a modular steel building system developed in Scotland, has been included in a multi-million dollar funding program implemented by the US Department of Energy (DoE) to make advanced nuclear construction more faster and more affordable.

Its National Center for Reactor Innovation is investing $ 5.8 million to develop innovative construction technologies that reduce the cost of new nuclear constructions by more than 10%, as well as significantly accelerate the pace of their development.

Developed by Renfrewshire-based Modular Walling Systems, the Steel Bricks system is manufactured in the UK by structural steel manufacturer Caunton Engineering.

The proprietary system of the steel composite structure has been described as “high-tech LEGO parts”, which could significantly reduce the amount of construction labor required at the site.

This is one of three development projects that will be funded by the DoE’s Advanced Construction Technology (ACT) initiative.

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will lead a team to explore promising technologies from other industries and ensure they are tested to meet the rigorous demands of the nuclear industry.

Steel Bricks was recently identified as a major component of GE Hitachi’s next-generation BWRX-300 small modular reactor, targeting an estimated market of $ 1.2 billion worldwide.

Dr. Stewart Gallocher, Founding Director of Modular Walling Systems, said: “The system is a ‘first of its kind’ concept in the burgeoning world of steel composite construction.

“It not only provides the suspended walls and floors or steel composite roofs, but most importantly a base mat, which removes the need for conventional foundations, eliminating the traditional Achilles heel of this form of construction which are the weak points of the base mat to the wall connection.

“Many attempts have been made over the past 25 years to design simple, safe and fast manufacturing methods for internally connecting steel faceplates, but most have not had commercial application due to their too high cost and labor, ”he explained.

“We can now successfully deliver a solution that is technologically competent while providing significant cost and time advantages – this could mark a big step forward for advanced nuclear construction in its global drive to become a cost effective alternative.” , green and sustainable with carbon. based energy supply.

Dr Kathryn Huff, Acting US Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy at DoE, said: “Construction costs and schedule overruns have plagued new nuclear builds for decades.

“By taking advantage of advanced construction technologies, we can reduce costs and accelerate the pace of advanced nuclear deployment – essential steps to tackle global climate change and meet President Biden’s net zero carbon goal of here 2050. ”

US funding will allow the development of the Steel Bricks system and its application for the advanced design of small modular reactors.

Full-size reactor specimens will be made in the UK, ahead of testing by Purdue University in Indiana later this year.

The modular construction includes two steel faceplates which are connected internally to create a sandwich panel. Faceplates provide permanent formwork while concrete is being filled and generate strength through composite action once the concrete has set.

The addition of shear headed studs to the arrangements prevents local buckling of the faceplates and provides sufficient strength at the steel-concrete interface to generate composite behavior.

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