Three new nuclear graduates join U-Battery
17 August 2021
U-Battery is delighted to welcome three new nuclear graduates who are joining the team this week. We spoke to John Eldridge, Principal Engineer leading the U-Battery team, to tell us more.
This is great news! Who are the graduates?
Niall is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Manchester having completed his dissertation on the 'Reactor physics modelling of a Novel Nuclear Battery.' Niall is currently pursuing chartership with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
Lewis has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Newcastle University. He has experience working as a Quality Engineer for JCB Power Products and, more recently, as an Innovation Engineer for Rolls-Royce.
Jack graduated from the University of Strathclyde in 2020 with an MEng in Mechanical Engineering. He has completed placements at Rolls-Royce as a Manufacturing Engineer and an Innovation Engineer.
As this is a first for U-Battery, why are we doing this now?
The U-Battery High Temperature Gas Reactor power plant is currently in its conceptual phase of development. This is the moment in the evolution of the design where the initial high level ideas of the power plant associated systems and power conversion systems are subject to detailed investigations to ensure that U-Battery is a technically and economically viable proposition.
It is a time of maximum theoretical and practical application requiring imagination and innovation from all participating engineers and hence offers the best possible opportunity for young engineers to gain valuable experience for their future careers.
There is a two way benefit as the graduates gain practical experience at a pace that is considerably faster than that of a routine engineering office and the project gains by having young engineers who are hungry for experience, who do not carry the inevitable design prejudices that can accumulate over time and will ask the challenging questions, ie, why are you doing it that way?
Why were these graduates chosen?
The three graduates were selected on the basis of them indicating their interest in being seconded to the U-Battery project as part of their training programme. They attended a short interview and were given the opportunity to describe their key objectives for the secondment. This included describing the subjects where they wish to gain experience and knowledge that would ultimately contribute to them successfully applying in the future for their Chartered Engineer status. From the U-Battery perspective they demonstrated an excitement and willingness to be flexible and imaginative in delivery and an overall feeling of wanting to be part of the team.
What will they be doing?
The graduates will each be reporting to a U-Battery lead engineer who as experienced Chartered Engineers have an interest in the development of the next generation of engineers. The graduates will be working on specific areas of the U-Battery plant, eg, the Fuel Handling systems. As U-Battery is a small team, in addition to their defined work, there will be elements of multi-tasking in the form of short term issue resolution that is inevitable in a project at this stage and which incidentally is often when the maximum learning occurs. Although they will receive considerable support and guidance from their Lead Engineers and other U-Battery professionals, it is up to the graduates to ensure the delivery of their defined objectives.
Where will they be based and how long are they are with Urenco for?
The graduates will be seconded to U-Battery from mid-August this year until late January 2022. They are nominally based in the U-Battery office in the UK but the continuing Covid-19 restrictions will mean they will, in reality, be working from their homes. This situation will be kept under review and, where practicable and safe, opportunities will made to visit U-Battery Supply Chain Manufacturing facilities and attend offsite events.
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.