Sheffield Forgemasters has passed an audit towards ASME NPT (Nuclear Partials) status to become one of the few UK companies able to fabricate safety-critical cast components within nuclear power stations.

SFIL’s NPT status will enable the company to weld-fabricate the components it currently supplies as a Nuclear Materials Organisation – a part of the nuclear assembly process that few organisations can undertake and one with significant challenges posed by weld-joining different materials.

The ASME code is the most comprehensive series of guidelines for civil nuclear manufacture in the world and all other codes, including the French RCC-M code, operate to similar compliance requirements. ASME codes cover a variety of manufactured equipment, including nuclear vessel manufacture (N), field installation and shop assembly (NA), nuclear supports (NS), pressure relief valves (NV), containment for spent fuel and radwaste (N3).

David Street, group quality director, at SFIL, said: "Forgemasters currently enjoys ASME status as a Materials Organisation, an accreditation for which we have had to pass a similar audit and a full quality systems survey every three years, working closely with the Hartford Steam Boiler Company to reach the audit stage.

Previously, SFIL could only supply ‘material’ for use in civil nuclear applications but it could not carry out further weld construction activities on these materials as will be allowed by NPT Certification status.

Street said: "The programme to retain our existing accreditation and to gain the higher NPT accreditation has required an investment of approximately £140,000, but the new accreditation will undoubtedly create new revenue streams as we start to tap into nuclear assembly work for a global client base.

"The implications of the ASME codes are vast for any company wishing to enter the UK civil nuclear supply chain with precise requirements which need comprehensive understanding to ensure compliance and avoid code violation. Businesses will need to understand how to engage with this process and at the moment, very few UK companies do."

Once SFIL secures NPT accreditation, it will sit with one of its key customers, Rolls Royce, as one of the only UK companies qualified for main component fabrication within the heart of a civil nuclear power plant.

Other UK companies that hold NPT certificates allowing manufacture of class 1 (primary core cooling system, and elevated temperature service) equipment nuclear partials includes Thompson Valves Ltd and Weir Valves & Controls. In addition, ClydeUnion pumps, another UK manufacturer, has an NPT certificate for class 2 equipment (important-to-safety emergency core cooling systems.

One of an eilte few in Europe

SFIL is joining an elite group of nuclear equipment manufacturers in Europe. Other European holders of ASME NPT certificates that allow manufacturing of class 1 and other classes of equipment are listed below.

  • Areva, Chalon sur Seine, France
  • Areva, Erlangen, Germany
  • ATB Riva Calzoni, Italy
  • Belleli Energy, Italy
  • BFE SpA, Italy
  • Bopp & Reuther Sicherheits-und Regelarmenturen, Germany
  • Cesare Bonetti, Italy
  • ClydeUnion SAS, France
  • ENSA, Spain
  • Felguera Caldereria Pesada, Spain
  • IBF SpA, Italy
  • JSPM, France
  • Krohne Messtechnik, Germany
  • KSB Aktiengesellschaft, Germany
  • Mangiarotti SpA, Italy
  • Nuevas Tecnologias de Soldadura (Newtesol), Spain
  • Officine Luigi Resta, Italy
  • Rutschi Fluid AG, Switzerland
  • Schulz, Germany
  • Sempell, Germany
  • Skoda, Czech Republic
  • Thompson Valves Ltd, UK
  • Walter Tosto SpA, Italy
  • Weir Valves & Controls, UK