Rolls-Royce plans to build up to 15 mini nuclear reactors in Britain

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Artist’s concept of a Rolls-Royce SMR plantRolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has announced that it plans to build, install, and operate up to 15 mini nuclear reactors in Britain, with the first set to go online in nine years. In a BBC Radio 4 interview with business journalist Katie Prescott on January 24, 2020’s Today program, Paul Stein, chief technology officer for Rolls-Royce, said that the company is leading a consortium to produce factory-built modular nuclear reactors that can be delivered for assembly by ordinary lorries.

Currently, the world is undergoing a boom in nuclear power. According to the World Nuclear Association, there are 448 operating civilian reactors and another 53 under construction. However, almost all of these are being built in Eastern Europe and Asia, with China alone building more reactors than the entire Western world combined.

Part of the reason for this is political with every reactor program in Europe or North America facing implacable environmentalist opposition and part of it is the expense of building and operating large reactors in an energy economy now dominated by cheap natural gas. However, one technology trend that could reverse this stagnation is the development of small, modular nuclear reactors that could be mass-produced in factories, carted to the site by ordinary lorries, and then assembled to generate cheap carbon-free electricity.

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Rolls-Royce ACCEL all-electric plane prepares to set a world record

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Rolls-Royce wants to create the ‘fastest electric plane ever,’ a goal that falls under its Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) initiative. The project is part of Rolls-Royce’s mission to advance aviation with the electrification of flight, opening the door for green air travel. The company is backed by government funding in this effort.

Assuming everything goes according to plan, ACCEL will usher in the fastest all-electric airplane in the world. The company announced last week that it has taken ‘an important step’ in this project by officially unveiling the electric model at the Gloucestershire Airport.

The company explains that its team is starting work on the ACCEL plane’s electrical propulsion system, specifically on integrating this system ahead of the record-breaking flight currently planned for next spring. Rolls-Royce expects the electric plane to reach or exceed 300 MPH.

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Rolls-Royce is developing tiny ‘cockroach’ robots to crawl in and fix airplane engines

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The U.K. engineer said the miniature technology can improve the way maintenance is carried out by speeding up inspections and eliminating the need to remove an engine from an aircraft for repair work to take place.

To explore the concept, the Rolls-Royce has teamed up with robotics experts at Harvard University in the U.S. and the University of Nottingham in England.

Rolls-Royce said Tuesday it is developing tiny “cockroach” robots that can crawl inside aircraft engines to spot and fix problems.

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Rolls-Royce charts course for autonomous shipping

The company has secured the grant from Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for innovation, which it plans to invest in an R&D centre in Turku, Finland.

Engineers at the site will carry out development projects focusing on land-based control centres and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in remote and autonomous shipping.

There is still very little AI or machine learning used in the maritime industry, according to Sauli Eloranta, head of innovation and technology at Rolls-Royce Marine.

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