National Nuclear Laboratory


Monday 17 January 2022

NNL announces successful focus area challenge applicants to deliver cross-sector innovation projects

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) is pleased to announce nine diverse organisations have been selected to undertake specialist projects that will advance knowledge across the nuclear sector.

Following the open call to industry and academia for game changing proposals in October 2021, the successful projects will support cross-sector innovation in three of the four Focus Areas outlined in NNL’s Science and Technology (S&T) Agenda.

Using the Game Changers process, which finds solutions for complex nuclear industry experiments, these challenges will be funded by NNL as part of an open innovation agenda to collaborate and work with external partners. The nine successful organisations in each strategic area are:

Clean Energy

Technologies to scale thermochemical methods of hydrogen production

  • Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen)

This project will explore solutions that could overcome the barriers to scaling commercial deployment of thermochemical methods of hydrogen production from water.

Health and Nuclear Medicine

Flexible method of production for thin film targets used in nuclear physics and nuclear medicine experiments

  • University of Bristol
  • Solaris Photonics (Cambridge)
  • Thin Metal Films (Basingstoke)

Each proposal will review and implement methods to put down thin, metal-based films onto a low atomic mass backing material in a flexible and reproducible manner.

Security and Non-Proliferation

Stand-off alpha radiation detection under daylight conditions

  • Wilcrom Ltd (Manchester)
  • Mirion Technologies (Canberra UK) Ltd (Oxford)
  • Industrial 3D Robotics (Tonbridge)
  • Alfa Rift Oy (Finland)
  • Interface Analysis Centre, University of Bristol

In collaboration with NNL and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), the five candidates will explore advancements that could enable the remote detection and identification of radiologically hazardous sources of alpha radiation.

Allan Simpson, Senior Research Technologist at the National Nuclear Laboratory, said: “It is fantastic to see the range of companies selected to undertake each Focus Area challenge, from UK academic institutions to technology companies based as far as Finland.

“In health and nuclear medicine, we value the unique Game Changers process to bring forward ideas to address our common challenges. Innovation is a vital component of NNL’s S&T agenda; tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges to find reliable solutions.”

Frank Allison, CEO of FIS360, which delivers the Game Changers programme in partnership with NNL, said: “We are delighted to see that our proven processes are capable of supporting such a widely diverse range of projects from an equally diverse range of sectors.”

Detailed information on NNL’s Focus Areas, including Environmental Restoration, can be found in the Strategic Plan which launched in July 2021.

NNL is currently seeking alternatives to cement-based solutions for use in nuclear waste encapsulation in a net zero world. Find out more information and register your interest here.

The application deadline for this challenge is 31 January 2022 at 12 noon.