Two Cumbrian firms are part of a consortium which has won a major contract as part of a £40 million Government initiative to fund a new generation of nuclear technologies.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced the package of nuclear investments this month.

While the majority will be spent on supporting the development of Advanced Modular Reactors, around £5m of the funding is intended to support British companies and start-ups with smaller research, design and manufacturing projects.

As part of the initiative, Createc, in Cockermouth, is leading a new project with Nuclear AMRC and TSP Engineering, in Workington, to develop a robotic system to inspect the most challenging welds for the next generation nuclear plants.

Operations director David Clark said: “Weld inspection is an essential component of many high value manufacturing and maintenance activities such as ships, aircraft, and nuclear reactors.

“Weld radiography is a mainstay of weld inspection but has two considerable drawbacks when deployed in-situ: it is potentially hazardous, making its use obstructive and dangerous, and it does not reliably detect certain types of defect.

“Createc has developed a concept that will combine 3D position sensing techniques, with autonomous robotics to make an in-situ radiography system which is safer, less obstructive and has higher performance by achieving in-situ computed tomography for generic welds or other industrial inspection.

“One of the key innovations is the ability to achieve the accuracy required for CT with independent robotic systems on either side of the weld.

"This would allow the system to be used in a wide range of applications, not limited by having to physically co-locate the two robotic systems.”

Nuclear AMRC helps UK manufacturers win work across the nuclear sector and other industries, while TSP Engineering works with major nuclear contractors on projects across the UK.

It also undertakes work for clients in Europe and Japan, including the supply of waste storage and fuel transport flasks.

One of Createc’s first products for the civil nuclear industry utilises an image reconstruction technique widely used in medical imaging, for equipment such as CT scanners.

The proposed weld radiography inspection concept uses a similar imaging technique.

Createc, which has expanded to employ 27 people, holds two different Queen’s Awards, having received the award for both International Trade and Innovation.