Recent events

What Happens to Nuclear Fuel Inside a Reactor? 20 June 2018

This talk was presented by Kerr Fitzgerald, a fuel performance scientist at the National Nuclear Laboratory. The talk covered the purpose of nuclear fuel, and explained the extreme environment it must withstand (for example pressurise water reactor fuel sees pressures of 155 atm, external temperatures of 330°C and radiation doses of 1018 n/m2/s!).  The high pressures, temperatures and dose rates experienced lead to a number of phenomena in nuclear fuel, the talk explained changes occurring in fuel pellets on the microscopic scale through to the macroscopic impact on a fuel rod. Yet despite this, Kerr's talk explained the tiny proportion of fuel failures seen in commercial reactors.  Finally, the presentation concluded looking to the future and research into enhanced accident tolerant fuels and novel cladding materials, covering the advantages and potential drawbacks of emerging technologies.  

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Nuclear education and skills capability: the role of international collaboration, 14 March 2018

It is certain that whatever the nuclear power policy among NEA countries, there is a need to preserve scientific and engineering expertise in the nuclear field in order to contribute to policy-making, safety, medical, and industrial activities. In this respect, there has been a growing concern among countries considering the declining   student enrolment in nuclear science and engineering programmes, as well as the fact that the pioneering generations in the field are approaching retirement or are no longer active, putting future expertise at risk. The NEA Nuclear Education, Skills and Technology (NEST) Framework was initiated with the ambition of reinforcing the high level technical expertise needed to support continued safe and efficient use of nuclear technologies. In this talk, Jim Gulliford will discuss NEST activities and what it means for the Nuclear Industry..

Watch the presentation on YouTube.

Physics. Innovation. Nuclear: A Topical Research Meeting, 1-2 November 2017

This conference looked at the success of physics-based research in driving innovation and value across the nuclear industry. This event brought together academia, industry and the supply chain to celebrate successes and demonstrate the value that physics brings to the nuclear industry and UK Plc. It also showcased the possibility that, through collaboration, the UK can become a leading, vibrant hub at the top table of the worldwide nuclear industry.

From Magnox to Chernobyl: A report on clearing-up problematic nuclear wastes, 28 September 2017

Since the dawn of the atomic age, radioactive fuel residues arising from civil use of nuclear power have, and continue to be, a major issue for the nuclear industry worldwide. This presentation will discuss the origins of some of these problematic nuclear wastes and the current plans on remediating them, including disposal in a geological disposal facility (GDF), followed by some of Sean Barlow’s PhD work on solving these problems.

Meeting slides

60 Years on from ZETA, 14 June 2017

Description: ZETA, the 'Zero Energy Thermonuclear Assembly', was a major experiment in the early history of fusion power research. It was much larger and more powerful than any fusion experiment in the world when it went into operation in 1957. Whilst not achieving fusion (despite the famous claims and press coverage), ZETA would go on to have a long experimental lifetime and produce numerous important advances in the field that have paved the ways for today's fusion research machines.

60-years on from ZETA, leaders from the UK nuclear fusion community met to discuss the historical advances made by ZETA, and other devices, and the very latest in fusion research – in both the magnetic and inertial confinement fields.

Three of the four presentations are now available: 60 Years on from ZETA by Chris Warrick, Inertial Confinement Fusion by Kate Lancaster and Compact Tokamaks with High Temperature Superconducting Magnets by David Kingham.

Regulation of UK Nuclear New Build, 17 May 2017

In this presentation, Mike Finnerty describes how ONR regulate the UK Nuclear New Build project effectively and efficiently to enable delivery of safe and secure new nuclear reactors, to meet the government low carbon energy agenda. Mike provides strategic leadership to ensure effective delivery of all regulatory activity associated with the UK’s new nuclear build agenda and is taking a leading role at ONR to further develop and implement a modern, enabling approach to regulation.

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The UK's Nuclear Future, 28 February 2017

The future looks brighter for the nuclear industry than it has for some years, in all areas. 2016 was an important year for the future of nuclear power in the UK: the go-ahead for construction of the two EPRs at Hinkley Point C was given; the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) awarded a grant to the High Temperature Facility (HTF) alliance to build an open access materials testing laboratory; the Government opened a competition to choose an SMR that could be developed and deployed in the UK and possibly world-wide; the end of Magnox reactor operation in December 2015 now puts the emphasis on defuelling and reprocessing the fuel; Sellafield has started the process of cleaning-up several of the old legacy plants from the 1940s and 1950s.  The NIG asked Dame Sue Ion, with her wealth of experience and knowledge to give her views on the UK's nuclear future.

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Nuclear Security, 15 November 2016
Thematic areas in both civil nuclear, and cyber and information security were presented in two lectures. Civil Nuclear Security was introduced across the main thematic areas of legislation and policy, the physical protection system including design and assessment considerations, and Security Management. Vulnerability assessment methodologies and their practical implementation, and aspects of good security culture were discussed. Cyber and information security, including a look at current UK trends and some of the key defences to reduce risk, focussed on some of the protective measures suitable for any organisation sector, including nuclear. Some of the resources that are available which will help everyone to stay safer when going online were also highlighted.

Meeting slides

Generation IV Reactors: Opportunities and Challenges, 2 November 2016

Generation IV reactors offer the promise of reliable, low-carbon, on-demand, safe and economic nuclear energy which has the potential to be sustainable for millennia. Generation IV reactors improve sustainability by creating the opportunity to use high-grade nuclear heat to displace conventional fossil-fuelled heat sources to supply process heat to a diverse range of industrial uses. Each proposed system faces its own challenges with regard to materials performance, engineering, economics, the requirements of licensing and safeguards systems, and public acceptability. Dr Richard Stainsby presented the current status of a selection of Generation IV reactor technologies, explored applications and opportunities for deployment, including the prospects to have small modular variants, and address their main challenges.

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Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste, 13 July 2016
The Group, in collaboration with Radioactive Waste Management Ltd (RWM), organised a seminar about the current issues associated with radioactive waste disposal from some of the industry's leading experts. The session was opened by Laurence Williams, an Emeritus Professor of Nuclear Safety and Regulation and Chair of the Committee of Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM), and included industry experts currently working to deal with the UK's nuclear legacy and the pursuit of technological developments to find the most efficient method for safely disposing of the higher activity waste. The approved presentations are available from the link below (6 MB).

Meeting slides

Small Modular Reactors – the Real Nuclear Renaissance?, 25 May 2016
Large nuclear power stations have become too complicated, take too long to build and are too expensive. Is it possible to use factory prefabrication and larger series of orders to make small reactors economic? This may also be a route to re-establish nuclear manufacturing in the UK. The UK is now looking at this option and some real money was promised by the Government in the Spending Review last year and the recent budget to decide if we take this route. This talk looks at the background to the interest in SMRs in the UK and some of the designs that are currently being proposed.

Meeting slides

Nuclear data, 12 April 2016
Traditionally, nuclear data have been used in the design and operation of nuclear reactors, and in estimating important parameters of the arising spent fuel and other nuclear wastes, but are now used in many different scientific fields.  This talk introduced both the international bodies responsible for developing and improving nuclear data libraries, as well as describe some of the physics behind the production of self-consistent nuclear data sets based upon experiments and theory referred to in the community as "evaluation".  Ongoing developments such as extending data beyond neutron interactions and approaches to uncertainty propagation through covariance were also described, with some examples of nuclear data validation will be given related to radionuclide inventories of spent fuel and its decay heat, as well as potential novel applications.

Meeting slides

Farewell to Magnox, 28 October 2015   
The Nuclear Industries Group and the History of Physics Group organised an extremely successful 1/2 day seminar at the Wylfa Nuclear Power Station to mark the end of the use of Magnox reactors to produce electricity. Wylfa 1, the last operating reactor will finally shut down at the end of the year. This will be virtually 60 years after the Queen opened Calder Hall, the first station to provide electricity for a national grid. We would like to record our thanks to Wylfa for their hospitality at the event, to the other organisations which supported it and the speakers who made the day so interesting.

View the presentations here, with the exception of that by Bob Mckenzie of Westinghouse, whose presentation on Fuel Manufacture and Development is withheld on grounds of commercial and security sensitivity.

Travels with a Cyclotron, 9 June 2015
The evening of 9 June saw a well-attended evening lecture given by David Parker. David has been at the University since 1989, and was awarded the IOP Joule Medal in 2008 for the development of Positron Emission Particle Tracking. David’s talk focused on three areas: the history of the cyclotrons at Birmingham, some of the applications the cyclotrons, and the tale of moving a cyclotron half way around the world. The cyclotron is the only one in the UK to manufacture 81Rb – 81mKr generators in the UK which are used to image lungs by the use of a gamma camera. The cyclotron supports many research activities, including Thin Layer Activation research, producing other radioisotopes, for example 69Ge for labelling oil, 62Zn supplied to St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and various exotic nuclides for NPL. David also discussed the uses of Positron Emission Particle Tracking. David then talked through the process of buying a cyclotron and shipping it half way around the world, which as you can imagine was not as straightforward as buying something off the internet...

Meeting slides

Graphite Reactors, 24 March 2015
Over 80% of the UK’s current nuclear fleet are graphite-moderated reactors. In addition to moderating the energies of neutrons in the fission process, the graphite core provides structural support, contains the fuel and control rods and allows for coolant flow. The graphite blocks are subject to high levels of neutron irradiation resulting in chemical and physical property changes, which in turn affect neighbouring reactor components. The lifetime of such reactors is therefore primarily limited by the performance of the irreplaceable graphite within the working reactor, so an accurate measure of its condition is essential for economic success and plant safety. Helen Freeman's lecture discussed the research which has been done to understand these mechanisms at a range of length scales.

Meeting slides

From Fission to Fuel Gone, 20 November 2014
CONSORT, the last civil research reactor in the UK, shut down for the final time in December 2012. The reactor, owned and operated by Imperial College London, had for nearly 50 years been used for teaching and research in many fields of nuclear science and technology, such as reactor physics, reactor engineering, neutron physics, solid state physics, radiochemistry and activation analysis. But, now the neutrons have ceased their toil, what’s left for the reactor? The talk discussed the first significant stage in the decommissioning of the reactor: defueling. This was a major activity as the reactor had never been designed to have a refuelling system, so it required a new installation. The talk covered the design, installation and commissioning of the defueling equipment, the regulator interactions and the successful outcome of the project.

Meeting slides

Innovative approaches to optimise the management of higher activity radioactive wastes, 17 September 2014
This talk described a range of innovative approaches to optimise the management of higher activity radioactive wastes and will provide an update on the work of Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM).

Meeting slides

Jules Horowitz Reactor, 6 March 2014
Following the 2014 AGM, the Nuclear Industry Group was pleased to welcome David Farrant from NNL. David presented the UK contribution to the Joules Horowitz reactor, construction of which is well underway and is expected to complete in 2018.

Meeting slides

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