The UK has recently established its first National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). This has been formed out of the Nexia Solutions organisation, formally the Research and Technology subsidiary of BNFL. Over the next year the NNL will develop so that it can fulfil its mission, which will include the development and maintenance of key skills and undertaking strategic R&D programmes both in the UK and in international collaborations.
A key role of the NNL will be to enhance its interactions with universities to facilitate skills transfer into the nuclear industry as well as support its R&D programmes. Over the past decade the NNL and its predecessor has already established close relationships with leading universities in the UK including Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds and Imperial College London. One of the key objectives of the NNL has been to work in an integrated way with university researchers with programmes spanning fundamental research through to applied R&D.
This paper describes the future plans for working with universities as the NNL develops, building on the success to date.
Joint R&D research programmes already cover many important areas for the nuclear industry. This includes support for the UK Pu disposition programme where R&D at the Immobilisation Science Laboratory, Sheffield has included investigating a range of ceramic and glass wasteforms which has allowed a number of ceramic wasteforms to be down selected for detailed evaluation. Cementation research has included understanding wasteform performance, for example long-term durability. This has involved work on determining free water and the implications for immobilisation of reactive wastes.
Other work involving the NNL and Universities, in particular at Leeds and Manchester, has considered the characteristics and behaviour of intermediate and high level waste sludges. This has included determining the chemical speciation of actinides and fission products, and physical properties of active and simulated sludges using experimental and modelling techniques.
A significant programme on environmental work has been undertaken by the NNL. In research applicable to low level waste disposal and contaminated land reactive transport modelling is utilised to apply experimental and field based research in environmental geochemistry and radiochemistry undertaken by university collaborators. This paper will describe a number of examples of R&D carried out by NNL in association with its university partners.
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Fairhall, G.A. The National Nuclear Laboratory and Collaborative University Research in the UK. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1124, 104 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-1124-Q01-04