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ANSIC announce successful applications from academic and industry open calls

NNL’s Advanced Nuclear Skills and Innovation Campus (ANSIC) pilot is delighted to reveal successful applications, following the academic and industry open calls in September.

In collaboration with Game Changers, five applicants have been carefully selected to undertake research and development projects at the pilot campus at NNL’s Preston Laboratory. Each will focus on Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANTs), which have the potential to play a major role delivering net zero.

Research grants up to a total of £400k were awarded to:

  • Lancaster University
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Studsvik
  • Lynkeos Technology
  • C-Tech Innovation

Commenting on all the successful applicants, Dr Paul Howarth, Chief Executive Officer at the National Nuclear Laboratory, said: “With COP26 recently concluding, amplifying opportunities to reach net zero have never been more poignant and these projects will help the UK’s quest to achieve greater decarbonisation by 2050.

“Each entry demonstrates unique ingenuity and specialist skills, which emphasise how vital our industry is. The unique facilities at NNL’s ANSIC pilot will help fulfil every project’s potential, making a real difference in society for generations to come. Without doubt – net zero needs nuclear.”

Dr Frank Allison, Chief Executive Officer and founder of FIS360, which jointly delivers Game Changers with NNL, said: “We were delighted with the applications we received for the two open calls and we’re looking forward to supporting the successful applicants as they deliver their projects, to help enhance the UK’s advanced nuclear technology capability.”

About the projects:

Lancaster University

Advanced Technology Fuels (ATFs) are amongst the next generation of nuclear fuels which may be deployed in small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced modular reactors (AMRs). A leading candidate, ATF material is uranium silicide which has high thermal conductivity and high uranium density making it safer and more economical than conventional uranium oxide-based fuels. The behaviour of these new materials must be thoroughly understood before they can be safely deployed as a fuel. The Lancaster University project (ANZAC) examines ATFs in support of net zero and decarbonisation to understand the behaviour of uranium silicide with a focus on material behaviour after it has been removed from a reactor.

The University of Edinburgh

AMRs comprise of a broad range of reactor technologies with a leading candidate being molten salt reactors (MSRs), in which the primary nuclear reactor coolant and/or the fuel is a molten salt mixture. A key requirement for MSRs and pyrochemical reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel is measurement and understanding of the physical properties such as thermal, rheological and electrical properties of candidate molten salts. The University of Edinburgh project explores the thermo-physical study of active molten salt systems for pyroprocessing and MSRs to benchmark physical property measurements of a simulant chloride salt system, containing surrogate fuel elements performed at the Pyrochemical Research Laboratory (PRL) at the University of Edinburgh. By assessing their similarity to measurements on the equivalent active system at NNL, this will benefit the development of future MSRs and molten salt reprocessing systems.

Studsvik

The Studsvik inDRUM treatment process is a pyrolysis technology that is under development to stabilise nuclear waste and provides a significant volume reduction. It has been demonstrated on some simulant waste streams but it has not been tested for sodium and molten salt waste streams that may arise from AMRs, including sodium-cooled liquid metal fast reactors (LMFRs) and MSRs. This project will focus on verifying this approach to treating sodium waste and molten salt waste from MSR coolant or coolant/ fuel mixtures by laboratory-scale testing.

Lynkeos Technology

Muography is a passive 3D imaging technique that tracks the paths of naturally occurring background radiation in the form of muons through the structure under interrogation. By detecting the incoming and outgoing muon paths, a 3D density map of the structure can be reconstructed. Lynkeos Technology has developed muography for applications in nuclear waste characterisation. This project seeks to explore the opportunities for muography applied to Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANTs) and their fuels and waste. It is proposed to run simulations of muography for SMR spent fuel monitoring and imaging of High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) coated particle fuels to assess the expected performance of muography for these applications. Furthermore, tests will be performed on a 3D printed dummy HTGR fuel element to validate the simulation results.

C-Tech Innovation

Electrochemical process technology is attractive for applications in the nuclear industry as it provides unique processing options for the recovery and recycle of valuable materials without the addition of reagents, hence supporting the development of sustainable solutions. C-Tech has demonstrated this approach for some waste streams at laboratory scale. This project, which examines electrochemical technology in nuclear material processing, seeks to work on experimental rigs in a nuclear setting. This will help to understand the mixing characteristics to enable process scale-up and investigate direct recovery of metals from solution by electrodeposition for separation and recovery of materials. In addition, a wider exploration of the potential for electrochemical processes to enhance nuclear processes will be conducted with industry experts.