National Nuclear Laboratory


Wednesday 29 January 2020

NNL Welcomes BEIS and NIRO to View Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme Work

NNL’s Preston Laboratory was delighted to host a major visit from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Nuclear Innovation and Research Office (NIRO) on Tuesday 28 January. The visitors came to NNL’s facilities and also toured the Westinghouse Springfields site, on which the Preston Lab is situated.

BEIS is the key government department leading on energy matters and NIRO is a body hosted within NNL (funded by BEIS and made up of a mixture of NNL and industry secondees), responsible for providing advice to Government, industry and others on nuclear science, R&D and innovation matters.

The focus of the visit was the work NNL are leading on behalf of Government on the Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme – a substantial strand of work within the BEIS-funded Energy Innovation Programme, which is worth – in total – over £500m. One aim of the AFCP programme is to develop nuclear fuels of the future and fuel recycling technologies, which can help to take the UK towards its commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Other important aims of the AFCP include developing and maintaining world-leading UK capability and subject matter experts, supporting and future-proofing a strong UK nuclear supply chain, and providing leadership in international co-operation in the areas of fuel and recycle technology.

During their tour of the Preston Lab, the visitors saw work related to accident tolerant fuel concepts and fuels made from coated particles, and discussed potential fuel designs for future fast breeder reactors. They also saw examples of some other research work being done in the Lab. During their visit to the rest of the Springfields site, the visitors were given a tour of the Oxide Fuel Complex, where all the fuel for the UK’s Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor fleet, along with PWR fuel for the overseas market,  is manufactured by Westinghouse.

Ahead of the visit, NNL hosted a dinner for the visitors and also invited representatives from Westinghouse, supply chain companies and  academic institutions which are involved in the overall delivery of AFCP.