National Nuclear Laboratory


Tuesday 12 October 2021

NNL welcomes £10m extension to BEIS-funded AFCP scheme

National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) – the UK’s national nuclear laboratory for fission – has agreed with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) a £10m extension to the pioneering Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme (AFCP) – originally funded as part of BEIS’s £505m Energy Innovation Programme (EIP).

AFCP is a flagship programme for NNL and sets out to equip the UK with the right skills, technology and networks to achieve carbon neutrality through the development of advanced fuels and recycle technology. The £10m programme extension will be funded as part of the BEIS £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and focus on advanced nuclear fuels for use in small and advanced modular reactors, which were recognised in the recent Energy White Paper as being key technologies to help reach the UK’s Net Zero commitment. The £10m extension will deliver:

  • UK manufactured coated particle fuels for new high temperature advanced reactors for the first time
  • UK developed advanced coated cladded fuels ready for performance testing in a commercial light water reactor
  • Wider developments across other advanced fuels and underpinning fuel cycle

We very much welcome the continuation of funding for AFCP, building on the tremendous achievements which have been delivered by the original £46m programme to date. These impacts are focused around 8 key areas, including Innovation, Skills, Supply Chain, World Class Facilities and Pathways to Net Zero, and include:

  1. Working with over 100 different UK organisations and more than 25 others from overseas, covering more than 10 countries.
  2. Leveraging over £130m of additional value through collaboration and partnership.
  3. International engagement, which has continued despite the inability to meet in person, and which has facilitated significant international influence both bi-laterally and multi-laterally with organisations such as OECD NEA, Generation IV Forum and IAEA.
  4. Online technical meetings to disseminate results and share insight, which have collectively attracted well over 200 participants from industry, Government, academia and the supply chain.
  5. Over 60% of AFCP’s total investment in industry supports SMEs.
  6. The programme supports over 90 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers at 16 UK universities.

Commenting on the news, Gareth Headdock, NNL’s Vice President for BEIS and Advanced Nuclear Technologies, said:

“The extension of AFCP is a testament to the fantastic work done by hundreds of people, not just within NNL, but across UK academia and the supply chain to make the programme a huge success. It is recognised and justifiably admired throughout the world. I am grateful to everyone who has played a part – no matter how small – in this amazing effort and I look forward to hearing even more success stories as the work on this £10m extension proceeds.”