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60 seconds with...Ian Andrews, U-Battery

Institution News Team

Ian Andrews, U Battery
Ian Andrews, U Battery

Ahead of his presentation next month, we get an advanced overview of Ian Andrews' recent successes at U-Battery in developing the latest advanced modular reactor designs.

For more information about the Advanced Nuclear Reactor Design seminar and to book your place, please visit the event website.

Please briefly explain your role, involvement and experience with regards to nuclear and nuclear new-build

Ian Andrews (IA): I am a chartered engineer and a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. I have 12 years’ experience in the nuclear enrichment industry, including design, construction, commissioning and projects for gas centrifuge plants in the Europe and USA and am a key member of the AMR delivery team and joined the U-Battery In May 2021, as the lead engineer responsible for delivering the conceptual design of a number of the reactor systems.

What is the top challenge facing the industry at present?

IA: The top challenge facing this and other safety critical sectors is the lack of experienced engineering resources. A situation exacerbated in the nuclear sector by a cautious culture that tends to absorb large numbers of people and as consequence develop bespoke, stick built designs that frequently result in cost and time overrun. A second issue is a nuclear supply chain that has reduced in capacity and capability as a result of long term low activity in the sector.

How would you say the industry has evolved over the past two years?

IA: There appears a realisation that the approach to delivering nuclear plant in the manner of the last two decades is not fit for purpose at a time of limited resources, fragmented supply chain and when it is essential to rapidly deliver a suite of practical carbon neutral energy solutions.

What developments are going on in your industry which will change your approach in the future?

IA: The U-Battery team has been operating with an alternative model for the last 5 years, based on a small highly versatile team including specialist contractors, delivering a concept based on factory manufactured, assembled and tested solutions to minimise on site activities. This has required close collaboration across multiple players and has proved effective in delivering the conceptual design phase of the U-Battery AMR to time and budget, in spite of the negative impact of Covid19. A key element of the successful delivery was that the U-Battery team actively recruited a number of its lead engineers from non-nuclear safety critical sectors including, heavy engineering, oil and gas, chemical, rotating machinery and others.

What will you be presenting at the Advanced Nuclear Reactor 2022 seminar and how will this benefit participants?

IA: The presentation will share the philosophy and key innovations adopted by the U-Battery delivery team in successfully delivering the conceptual design. It will include the approach to system delivery focussed on the wholesale adoption of factory build modules, skids, civil structures and other deliverable. The U-Battery team have demonstrated a flexible, collaborative and innovative approach that benefited the project, the participating companies and the individual engineers and specialists. Key highlights will be shared from the recent U-Battery learning from experience event.

Which other speakers and presentations are you looking forward to hearing at the forthcoming seminar?

IA: Will be looking to see where collaborations can be made by U-Battery with other projects on common issues such as module fabrication, common systems such as pumps and valves to the mutual benefit of the vendors and the supply chain.

Why is it important for engineers and nuclear industry representatives to come together and share best practice?

IA: It is important to share best practice, but it should involve more than those in the nuclear’ bubble’ as this tends to restrict original thought and innovation. It should recognise that the majority of the engineering and delivery challenges on these projects are not specific to nuclear and so is essential to maximise learning and credit from all sectors. A typical example of this approach for U-Battery was the adoption of best practice from un-manned offshore oil and gas facilities in autonomous control.

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