Nuclear engineering students visit Hitachi-GE Ltd in Japan for summer internship

Students George Alford, studying an MSc Physics and Technology of Nuclear Reactors and Thomas Davis, studying an MEng  in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Birmingham, joined Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd (HGNE), Hitachi City, Japan, for a 3-month summer internship.

The internship was supported by Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute and Dr Paul Norman, Senior Lecture in Nuclear Physics, University of Birmingham, alongside HGNE.


Hitachi TeamThe internship was an opportunity for both students to experience working with Japanese company HGNE, who are designing the new nuclear Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) to be built in the UK. It also enabled students to experience how reactor design and general layout are conducted, together with how a conservative and thorough accident analysis much be used to satisfy the UK regulations.

Both students also had the fortunate opportunity of presenting to the President of HGNE, CEO of Hitachi Nuclear Systems, and meeting Ambassador Hitchens at the British Embassy in Tokyo to discuss their time at HGNE, the state of affairs with the nuclear industry both in UK and Japan, and affairs around the world. Additionally, both visited Ōma Nuclear Power station, a half-way completed ABWR.

Thomas Davis said: 

“I was a Nuclear Design Engineer intern in the Civil and Design Section, where the majority of my time was spent understanding reactor specifications, UK nuclear policy and safety, and UK building regulations to meet the requirements of the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR). I directly modified the reactor designs to meet ONR regulations and discussed the modifications with them in person (when on business trips to HGNE), and video conference calls. As part of the design team, I regularly attended meetings between HGNE, Horizon Nuclear Power (HNP), UK contractors, and ONR. I gained a deep insight into how business is conducted between the customer HNP, the supplier HGNE, contractors, and the regulator ONR.”


George Alford said:

“I participated in the Reactor Engineering group where I performed severe accident analysis for HGNE in preparation for the Generic Design Assessment Step 3. I conducted the first HPCF (medium break) LOCA analysis for the UK-ABWR along with two other beyond design basis faults. Such work heavily involved applying reactor analysis code, TRACG, to simulate the accidents to ensure that they could be routinely dealt with by the multiple safety systems attributed to the UK-ABWR. I gained an insight into the stringent nuclear accident analysis required by ONR, an understanding of the complex analysis code TRACG and most importantly developed strong relationships and friendships with my colleagues over the 3-month period.”