FutureStructure

Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing Center Launches in Richland, Pa.

The center will develop new technology with components small enough to be developed inside a factory over the coming decade to support smaller-scale nuclear plants.

by David Hurst The Tribune-Democrat / August 25, 2017
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(TNS) — Concurrent Technologies Corp. debuted the Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing inside the company’s Industrial Park Road facility in Richland Township on Thursday.

It’s a move that creates a first-of-its-kind research, problem-solving and design hub for the nation’s “next-generation” power plant development industry, U.S. nuclear manufacturing industry officials said.

“The United States Nuclear Infrastructure Council’s working group and a list of industry companies conducted a more-than-year-long review to find a company prepared to operate the center and CTC emerged as the consensus choice,” said Vince Gilbert, a senior fellow with the Nuclear Infrastructure Council, a Washington, D.C.-based business consortium.

CTC President and CEO Ed Sheehan said the Richland-based corporation has been designing new solutions for complicated defense and manufacturing industry tasks for decades — including a U.S. Navy shipyard project aimed at enhancing nuclear ship construction capabilities.

“Now, we’re leveraging those processes into the nuclear industry itself,” he said during Thursday’s ribbon-cutting.

The event also served as an open house for the nuclear industry. Sheehan was joined by local, state and federal elected officials, economic development leaders and what Nuclear Industry Council Director David Blee described as a “who’s-who of American nuclear energy companies” — industry officials who were planning to meet individually with CTC executives Thursday.

CTC employs 550 people across the country, including 450 in Richland Township.

Approximately 30 people in Concurrent Technologies’ local labor force will work in the Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing, partnering with both government and industry to move a “game-changing” wave of new nuclear systems forward, Sheehan said.

Specifically, those systems will center around new, comparatively compact nuclear reactors called “Small Modular Reactors” and “Advanced Reactors” that might be one-tenth the size of the ones that power the nation’s aging nuclear plants, Blee said.

The new technology — with components small enough to be developed inside a factory — will be developed over the coming decade to support smaller-scale nuclear plants.

All of that — and mobilizing a supply chain equipped to support it all — will take a few years to assemble, he said.

But the timing is right, Blee added.

In the coming decades, American nuclear plants that generate hundreds of thousands of megawatts and power millions of homes will need to be replaced.

And waves of smaller generating facilities — perhaps as small as 5 megawatts — could be part of the solution for a $2.6-trillion industry, he said.

Some of these modular reactors could be installed solely to serve one large company, including massive factories and defense contractors, Blee said.

Much like a similar Advanced Manufacturing Center in the United Kingdom, CTC’s role will be in the design, analysis and cost-reduction fields — not building reactors, he and Sheehan noted.

“What was really needed was leadership ... and CTC seized the day with their track record and leadership,” Blee said, noting that it stood out among other hopefuls.

“We are honored to meet this demand to launch and operate the (Center for Advanced Nuclear Manufacturing) and look forward to continued collaboration with the NIC’s working group, member companies, academia and other organizations,” Sheehan said.

This week marks CTC’s 30th anniversary — and U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, indicated the company has plenty to celebrate.

“This center will be an important asset to help us meet our evolving energy needs — now and in the future,” Rothfus said.

©2017 The Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.