National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

NNL: Double Award Winners

NNL has won two coveted prizes at the 2011 CN Group Business Awards ceremony held at the Rheged Centre in Penrith. The awards showcase the talent and energy supporting business success in Cumbria. NNL was nominated in two categories and won both awards – the biggest winners on the night!

The two winning categories for NNL were:

  • Innovation and Technology Award
  • Innovation in Energy Award

NNL Managing Director, Paul Howarth was delighted at the win, commenting:

“This is really fantastic news. It’s great to see the hard work of our people being recognised in a high profile and respected arena. Of course, I’m especially pleased to have won both the awards we were nominated for … and for the back to back wins in the Innovation and Technology category – it shows what a truly innovative organisation the National Nuclear Laboratory is.”

Innovation and Technology

In the ‘Innovation and Technology’ category, NNL won the award for its fuel cycle and fuel performance software (ORION, ENIGMA and NEXUS). The software has been developed by NNL and is making a major contribution to availability and reliability in the reactor operations market. These innovative products provide a basis for clearer understanding of the behaviour of nuclear fuel in a power reactor and how the fuel can be protected during its generation lifetime and after its operational life.

By developing and commercialising this unique suite of software, NNL has provided customers with the capability to predict the detailed behaviour of nuclear fuel in manufacturing, in the reactor and during subsequent storage. At the fuel cycle scale, the software presents the ability to evaluate burn-up, storage, reprocessing, recycling and disposal of complex fuel systems.

ORION models the complete fuel cycle and ENIGMA models the performance (thermo-mechanical behaviour) of a single fuel pin in a nuclear reactor. NEXUS models performance of all fuel pins in the core of a nuclear reactor (using ENIGMA).

This is the second successive year that NNL has won the Innovation and Technology Award with the HiRad radiation detection system winning in 2010.

Innovation in Energy

In the ‘Innovation in Energy’ category, NNL was recognised for success in being awarded an initial phased contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) worth over £1 million to demonstrate the feasibility of using the nuclear material americium in batteries to power future generations of European led space missions.

This new power source is being investigated as an alternative to the traditional solar panels currently used on long-term space missions. Energy generated by the panels will struggle to cope with long distance requirements. The effectiveness of the panels reduces once the distance from the Sun becomes too great and when a craft or satellite travels beyond Mars.

A successful programme of work has the huge potential to lead to the creation and development of a space battery production line within the Central Laboratory. A facility of this nature would generate income for West Cumbrian economy running into tens of million pounds over a 15-20 year period and also create significant job opportunities.