National Nuclear Laboratory


Friday 12 January 2024

British Fuels the Focus as UK Energy Secretary Visits NNL in Preston

The UK’s Energy Secretary met with scientists delivering on British innovation in advanced fuels manufacture this week, as part of a visit to the National Nuclear Laboratory in Preston, Lancashire.

The Rt Hon Claire Coutinho MP was on site to launch the UK Government’s new Nuclear Roadmap, which sets out the biggest expansion in nuclear power in 70 years.

NNL’s Preston Laboratory – one of its four world-leading laboratories in the North West of England – is a critical national asset developing advancements in UK nuclear fuel capabilities. It is based on the Springfields site, with a longstanding history at the centre of the UK’s domestic fuel production and home to pivotal UK jobs and skills.

With a rare opportunity to gain a first-hand look in one of the UK’s nuclear research laboratories, the Energy Secretary was taken through the multi-stage process for manufacturing Coated Particle Fuel (CPF). This a new type of fuel we will need for high temperature Advanced Modular Reactors, AMRs. CPF is now being produced at Preston Laboratory at scale.

Not only has the programme of work helped to restore nuclear skills and capabilities within the UK but it will enable the UK to deploy next generation reactors. Directly utilising the heat from these reactors, as well as using them to generate electricity can have a huge impact on net zero by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and decarbonising our industries.

Supported by investment from the UK Government’s Energy Innovation Programme, the capability now exists in the UK for the fuel to move into commercial production and will form a key part of the government’s ambition to deliver up to 24GW of clean, reliable nuclear power by 2050.

Energy Security Secretary Claire Coutinho said:

“Nuclear power is stable, clean and secure.

“That’s why I announced over £9 million for the National Nuclear Laboratory to invest in the skills and research to support UK fuel production, which will help push Putin out of the market.

“This week I met some of the brilliant scientists helping us power the biggest nuclear revival in 70 years by developing new fuels for the next generation of reactors.”

Dr Paul Howarth, Chief Executive Officer at NNL, said:

“We welcome Secretary of State Coutinho to our laboratories to announce the Civil Nuclear Roadmap, which is great news for the nuclear industry, the North West and in particular this site here at Preston, which has a long history in nuclear fuel production. As a national laboratory, our role is to provide research and scientific innovation to support the industry.

“Our facilities at Preston play a crucial role, and this announcement provides us with future clarity enabling highly skilled jobs that benefit the region, alongside upskilling and developing young people.”