A BIRCHWOOD firm has announced a 'memorandum of understanding' with a major nuclear power plant constructor.

Amec Foster Wheeler, which has facilities on Faraday Street, and China Nuclear Engineering & Construction Corporation (CNECC) have signed the wide-ranging agreement.

The two firms confirmed the move could potentially cover a potential collaboration in the nuclear industry.

It is the first time CNECC has agreed to collaborate with a global engineering consultancy on the deployment of high temperature reactors in the UK and across the globe.

Amec's vice president for clean energy Tom Jones said: "High temperature reactors have great potential to provide safe, clean and sustainable energy for the future.

"We hope that our collaboration will help the UK and China realise the potential benefits of this tremendously important technology."

CNECC vice president Zu Bin added: "The high temperature gas cooled reactor is inherently safe and can generate electricity efficiently and competitively for power generation, heat supply and desalination."

The agreement was signed in Beijing as part of a nuclear industry trade mission organised by UK Trade and Investment, as well as the China-Britain Business Council.

Amec and CNECC are committing themselves to work together to develop opportunities in 'nuclear power development, construction, operation and decommissioning projects'.

They will identify 'specialist knowledge' which can contribute towards 'reactor outage management'.

The scope of the deal also covers training, waste management and decommissioning.

It is expected CNECC will make use of Amec's new high temperature UK facility, which will carry out research and testing on materials capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Celsius.

Amec's clean energy Europe business employs a total of 1,200 people in Knutsford and Birchwood.

An international task force is developing six nuclear reactor technologies for deployment between 2020 and 2030.

Most are set to operate at higher temperatures than current reactors and have advantages over the pressurised water reactor – the most common type in use today – in terms of 'sustainability, economics, safety, reliability and proliferation resistance'.

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