Sheffield Forgemasters has concluded successful casting trials of a pioneering hollow steel ingot to help capitalise on key power generation sectors including civil nuclear.

The 160 tonne ingot was cast at the Brightside Lane foundry in UK and aims to enable the company to produce highly efficient cylindrical forgings by removing many of the costly time and energy heavy processes required to create a tubular shaped forging from a solid steel ingot.

Hollow ingots will enable Forgemasters to produce cylindrical forgings, which are used for components including transition cones used in civil nuclear power steam generators and waste casks for spent nuclear fuel. Starting from a hollow ingot improves the efficiency of the process and requires fewer heating cycles per component and less waste material.

Casting the hollow ingot has taken more than 12 months of investment by the company’s research and development facility, headed by Dr Jesus Talamantes-Silva, to refine a practice which is only adopted by select few companies across the globe.

Sheffield Forgemasters has invested heavily into its research and development over the years since chief executive Graham Honeyman masterminded a management buyout of the company in 2005, but its processes now enable the company to compete at the leading edge of heavy engineering on a global level.

The process is not entirely new to Forgemasters as hollow ingots were manufactured at Brightside Lane in the years prior to 1980 – but the technology for creating them from scratch has changed greatly, allowing Forgemasters to create a much more predictable outcome.

Jesus said the efforts in preparatory research meant that many of the potential failings when committing to an entirely new production process were reduced and addressed before starting costly processes such as casting and pouring steel for the actual component.