Researchers grapple with UK's nuclear legacy

Jan 08, 2014

The University of Leeds will lead a consortium of 10 universities in a national research programme looking at ways of dealing with Britain's nuclear waste.

The £8 million , funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will start in February and bring together the nuclear industry, the Government's nuclear advisors and the country's leading academic researchers.

More than 40 doctoral and post-doctoral researchers will work over the next four years on issues including how best to handle different types of spent fuels, packaging and storing waste, and dealing with nuclear sludges in ponds and silos at nuclear power stations.

Professor Simon Biggs, Director of the University of Leeds' Institute of Particle Science and Engineering, who will lead the University , said: "The project is primarily focused on developing new technologies and providing confidence in the safe storage and disposal of legacy waste. The UK is a technology leader in this field and the core aim of this project is to maintain and further develop that skill base."

He added: "This will be a truly interdisciplinary effort. We have civil engineers, chemists, chemical engineers, robotics experts, radiochemists, mechanical engineers and material engineers all working together on thirty different projects."

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Sellafield Limited will be partners in the project, alongside the Universities of Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Imperial, Lancaster, Loughborough, Manchester, Sheffield, Strathclyde and UCL.

Much of the UK's legacy waste is kept at the Sellafield site in Cumbria.

Sellafield Limited's Research Alliance Manager Neil Smart said: "Today, Sellafield faces a challenge where there is no blueprint; emptying and demolishing some of the most difficult and complex nuclear buildings in the world – the decommissioning of historic reactors, reprocessing facilities and associated legacy ponds and silos.

"This massive challenge is however an opportunity to demonstrate that Sellafield is still at the forefront of the UK's nuclear industry and we are delighted that the EPSRC is supporting appropriate academic research that will contribute to the scientific and technical underpinning of our mission. We look forward to engaging in these projects and benefiting from the outcomes, not only in terms of the science and technology but also the skilled people developed through these projects with the potential to enhance our workforce long into the future."

Graham Fairhall, Chief Science and Technology Officer at the NNL, which provides experts and technologies to government and the , also welcomed the project.

"Having 10 of the UK's leading universities working collaboratively with industry in this important area makes this a very significant programme," he said. "We are pleased to be involved in a number of ways, including supervision of more than half of the projects and making the world-leading facilities in our central laboratory on the Sellafield site available to support several strands of the work."

The NDA's Head of Research and Development, Melanie Brownridge, said: "Our industry benefits hugely when high-level academic research is focused at some of the challenges we face in decommissioning our nuclear legacy. We welcome this collaboration and look forward to seeing the progress that these important projects will deliver. Equally valuable will be the development of knowledge and expertise for the participants – we hope their skills with be with us for many years ahead."

The project will be formally called Decommissioning, Immobilisation and Storage solutions for Nuclear waste Inventories (DISTINCTIVE) - and follows an earlier programme, also led by Leeds and announced by the EPSRC in 2007, that was known as DIAMOND.

The EPSRC will provide a £4.9 million grant to the new project, with additional funding and support coming from the Universities and the industry partners.

Research will be organised under four themes: AGR, Magnox and Exotic Spent Fuel; Plutonium oxide and Fuel Residues; Legacy Ponds and Silos Wastes; Infrastructure characterisation, restoration and preservation. Each project will have an industrial supervisor from either NNL or Sellafield Limited.

Explore further: Volume of nuclear waste could be reduced by 90 percent, says new research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

DIAMOND to tackle UK nuclear waste issues

May 01, 2008

The long-term problem of how to manage and dispose of Britain’s nuclear waste is to be tackled by a UK consortium headed by the University of Leeds.

Report: Nuclear power investment should not be delayed

Mar 30, 2011

The UK can realise a £10 billion economic opportunity through adopting a new, holistic approach to nuclear energy that would tackle concerns over security of energy supply, rising oil prices and safety ...

Japan lacks decommissioning experts for Fukushima

Dec 15, 2013

Japan is incapable of safely decommissioning the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant alone and must stitch together an international team for the massive undertaking, experts say, but has made only halting ...

World needs joint nuclear safety approach

Oct 13, 2011

The global upsurge in the use of nuclear power in countries such as China, Russia and Britain must be accompanied by a greater focus on security and the management of nuclear waste, a report said Thursday.

Recommended for you

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

1 hour ago

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Obama launches measures to support solar energy in US

1 hour ago

The White House Thursday announced a series of measures aimed at increasing solar energy production in the United States, particularly by encouraging the installation of solar panels in public spaces.

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

1 hour ago

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

Wireless power transfer achieved at five-meter distance

2 hours ago

The way electronic devices receive their power has changed tremendously over the past few decades, from wired to non-wired. Users today enjoy all kinds of wireless electronic gadgets including cell phones, ...

Environmentally compatible organic solar cells

Apr 16, 2014

Environmentally compatible production methods for organic solar cells from novel materials are in the focus of "MatHero". The new project coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) aims at making ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PRISMsUK
not rated yet Jan 08, 2014
Can't Professor Biggs get John Clarke and Ed Davey together and perform a simple head-knocking exercise?

Make the decision to use GE Hitachi's PRISM reactor to burn our plutonium stockpile! It's tantamount to a no-win, no-fee contract! One offer would render the plutonium useless as a bomb making material in 5 years - from the resultant fuel produced, the reactor will chug away for a further 50 or 60 years, generating 622 MW of emission-free, commercial electricity.

It's a no-brainer and a way to a bit of kudos for John Clarke, after his recent bit of soul-searching: http://prismsuk.b...nda.html

More news stories

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...

Classifying cognitive styles across disciplines

Educators have tried to boost learning by focusing on differences in learning styles. Management consultants tout the impact that different decision-making styles have on productivity. Various fields have ...