Creating a more sustainable world - World Engineering Day 2022
04 March 2022
To mark World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, we spoke to John Eldridge, U-Battery's Principle Engineer, to highlight how we can create a more sustainable world.
John is the Principal Engineer for Urenco’s U-Battery project, the advanced modular reactor (AMR) that can provide low-carbon, cost effective and locally embedded energy to power-intensive industries.
Currently under development, the U-Battery could also be adapted for hydrogen production, increasing its contribution to the UK’s net zero push.
“I’m responsible for whatever is cold,” John explains. “The hot physics side of things comes under my colleague Tim Abram.
“My interest is ensuring we have a machine we can build in an economical fashion, to ensure it’s a safe, deliverable and practical solution.”
Having had a rewarding career of more than 40 years, John is now a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool.
And having been involved in renewables decades earlier, he’s passionate about the potential of U-Battery.
He said: “I’m an engineer – my first priority is to people, my second to the environment, and the third is to my employer.
“I was seconded to the (former) Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) in the 1990s to look at renewables as a potential opportunity for the UK.
“Wind energy was the top of the agenda then. In the end, the solutions to many of our problems have to come from engineers.”
John went through the chartered route to becoming an engineer, starting off with an apprenticeship whilst still a 16 year old teenager. His stops along the way included the former Science Research Council, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and British Nuclear Fuels Ltd.
That’s why he takes the mentoring of his U-Battery graduates so seriously. In fact, over the course of the last 20 years as a whole, he believes he’s mentored up to 40 young engineers from apprenticeship and graduate pathways.
“It’s my way of giving something back,” he said. “The fact they choose to come to us is an endorsement of what we’re about. It’s a fantastic way of setting them up for their future careers.”
U-Battery is an advanced/small modular reactor, capable of providing a low-carbon, cost-effective, locally embedded and reliable source of power and heat for energy intensive industry and remote locations. It is being developed by Urenco in collaboration with a number of supporting organisations and has received funding from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy's Energy Innovation Portfolio.