The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to lead a $2 million additive manufacturing research project.
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) will lead the project by producing sample replacement parts for nuclear power plants. The samples will be 3D printed in metal at the GE Power Advanced Manufacturing Works facility in Greenville, SC and then be shipped to the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
Once irradiated in INL’s Advanced Test Reactor, the samples will be removed, tested and compared to an analysis of unirradiated material conducted by GEH. The results will be used by GEH to support deployment of 3D printed parts for fuels, services and new plant applications.
“The potential of 3D printing to speed delivery time and reduce the cost of manufacturing performance-enhancing replacement parts for nuclear power plants is quite significant,” said Jay Wileman, President and CEO, GEH. “We want to recognize the Department of Energy for its leadership in advanced nuclear research and we look forward to working with the Idaho National Laboratory.”
The project is part of a more than $80m investment in advanced nuclear technology announced last week by DOE. Nuclear Science User Facilities funding will be used to provide GEH with access to world-class neutron and gamma irradiation and post-irradiation examination services.
“Nuclear power is our nation’s largest source of low-carbon electricity and is a vital component in our efforts to both provide affordable and reliable electricity and to combat climate change,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in announcing several awards recently.
GEH is currently participating in a DOE-funded project with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop stainless steel with enhanced stress corrosion cracking and irradiation resistance.
The GE Power Advanced Manufacturing Works facility in Greenville opened in April. GE has invested $73m in the facility to date and will invest another $327m across the GE Power Greenville campus over the next several years to drive innovation and the faster development of best-in-class technologies that deliver more value for customers across the globe.