National Nuclear Laboratory


Wednesday 6 November 2019

NNL Welcomes Programme of Advanced Nuclear Fuel Cycle Research

NNL welcomes the update from Government concerning the Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme (AFCP) – part of BEIS’s previously announced £180m Nuclear Innovation Programme.

Under the terms of the AFCP, NNL will work – on behalf of BEIS –  to develop skills, knowledge and capabilities in the areas of advanced recycle and waste management and advanced nuclear fuels. This will involve the development of new technologies and processes which can contribute towards a reduction in the whole lifecycle costs of nuclear energy. The programme also aims to ensure international co-operation, with an emphasis on promoting and maintaining the role of the UK as a global leader in these areas.  Sustaining key skills via R&D and developing the next generation of “subject matter experts”, who can learn from today’s industry experts will be a further objective of the AFCP, as will working across the sector to  maintain and future-proof a UK supply chain for nuclear fuels and reprocessing.

Technology areas to be investigated will include the development of accident tolerant fuels, fast reactor fuels, nuclear data development, separations technology, modelling and fabrication.

NNL Chief Executive, Paul Howarth, commented:

“As the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission research, NNL is ideally-placed to deliver this ambitious and challenging AFCP programme. The size and scope of the programme demonstrate the importance of these areas to the nation and this programme immediately becomes a substantial part of our overall business. We are delighted and proud to lead this work – working with the wider supply chain and with academia.

We’re also delighted to see that years of work by colleagues across the sector are now paying tremendous dividends for the nation. That goes back to the work of the House of Lords in their inquiry into Nuclear R&D in 2011, the insightful work of the (then) Government Chief Scientific Advisor Sir John Beddington to implement those recommendations, and also includes the valuable work done by NIRAB to clarify where investment should most effectively be targeted. I pay tribute to all of those people involved for their vital efforts and perseverance.”

The update from BEIS also includes £18m from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (to create a £36 million joint investment with the private sector), for the Low-Cost Nuclear Challenge. This proposal, from a consortium led by Rolls-Royce and including NNL amongst the members, aims to develop a Small Modular Reactor designed and manufactured in the UK capable of producing cost effective electricity.

The BEIS update statement can be found here: