Recent events

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.

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Farewell to Magnox   
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...

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Graphite Reactors, 24 March
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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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