Civil nuclear research with Japan: phase 8

Apply for funding to research challenges in civil nuclear energy relevant to Fukushima and Sellafield.

You must be a UK-based researcher employed by an eligible research organisation.

You must collaborate with Japanese researchers.

Your proposal must address one of these:

  • radioactive waste treatment
  • robotic and autonomous systems for decommissioning
  • fuel debris materials
  • decommissioning technology.

We prefer to support projects that add to work funded in previous phases. We will fund the UK work of two projects.

Your project must start on 1 November 2021 and end on 31 March 2024.

Who can apply

Standard EPSRC eligibility rules apply. Research grants are open to:

  • UK higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • UKRI-approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • NHS bodies with research capacity.

You can apply if you are resident in the UK and meet at least one of the criteria below:

  • are employed at the submitting research organisation at lecturer level or equivalent
  • hold a fixed-term contract that extends beyond the duration of the proposed project, and the host research organisation is prepared to give you all the support normal for a permanent employee
  • hold an EPSRC, Royal Society or Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship aimed at later career stages
  • hold fellowships under other schemes (please contact EPSRC to check eligibility, which is considered on a case-by-case basis).

Submissions to this call will not count towards the EPSRC repeatedly unsuccessful applicants policy.

What we're looking for

This call seeks to support two projects covering key research challenges to accelerate and advance nuclear science, including decommissioning relevant to Fukushima and Sellafield.

Proposals are expected to address issues in one of these four fields:

  • radioactive waste treatment
  • robotic and autonomous systems for decommissioning
  • fuel debris materials
  • formation and characterisation of radioactive aerosols
  • decommissioning technology.

Within these fields, we would like research proposals to fall within the below sub-themes.

Radioactive waste treatment:

  • treatment and immobilisation of radioactive wastes
  • waste characterisation
  • sludge and slurry treatment.

Robotic and autonomous systems for decommissioning:

  • radiation hardened robotic systems
  • remote inspection
  • remote handling.

Fuel debris materials:

  • fuel debris characterisation
  • aging.

Decommissioning technology:

  • digital twins for decommissioning
  • sort and segregation of waste.

This call is not open to research proposals on new fuels and new reactors. It is desirable that applications will complement existing research projects funded under previous phases of the UK-Japan civil nuclear energy programme.

This is a joint call between EPSRC and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Thus all applications are expected to be collaborative between UK-based researchers and Japan-based researchers.

The UK partner should submit their proposal part to EPSRC. The Japanese partner should submit their part to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Collaborative Laboratories for Advanced Decommissioning Science (CLADS). Find out more about the JAEA and CLADS call on:

Differences to a standard application

The projects are to be of fixed duration, with a fixed start date in November 2021 and a fixed end date of 31 March 2024. This fixed timeline is set to accommodate Japan’s funding cycle.

The case for support is permitted to be 10 pages to match the allowed limit in Japan.

In addition, the application should include a two-page outline of the project, describing both the UK and Japan-based components. This outline will be assessed by JAEA and CLADS during the interview stage (to be held in Japan, for Japan-based researchers only), which is described in the assessment section.

The case for support submitted to EPSRC should attempt to match the content submitted to JAEA and CLADS, in-so-far as this is possible, given the difference in language. It should also describe the work being done in both Japan and the UK.

Applicants should note that they should request only the travel and subsistence cost for the UK part of the project. The Japanese partners should request any funds they need from MEXT.

Additional grant conditions will apply and are listed in the additional information section.

Funding available

This call is run jointly by EPSRC and MEXT, with EPSRC funding the UK-based component of the research project, and MEXT funding the Japan-based one.

EPSRC funding available for this call is up to £1 million and it is to support the UK component of two research projects.

Equipment

Equipment over £10,000 in value (including VAT) is not available through this call. Smaller items of equipment (individually under £10,000) should be in the ‘directly incurred – other costs’ heading.

Find out more about equipment funding (EPSRC).

Complementing existing funds

It is desirable that applications will complement existing research projects funded under previous phases of the UK Japan civil nuclear energy programme:

How to apply

Applicants should ensure they are aware of and comply with any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.

You should prepare and submit your proposal using the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

When adding a new proposal, you should go to documents, select ‘new document’, then select:

  • council: EPSRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: standard
  • call: UK Japan Civil Nuclear Research Programme Phase 8.

After completing the application:

  • you must ‘submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration
  • your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process.

Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the call closing date.

EPSRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 1 July 2021. Please note that the closing time in Japan may be different from this so please plan your joint submissions accordingly.

Documents to submit

As well as the Je-S application form, the following documents must be submitted.

Case for support

Up to ten sides A4, including:

The description of the proposed research submitted to EPSRC should match that submitted to JAEA and CLADS, in-so-far as this is possible, given the difference in language. It should also describe the work being done in both Japan and the UK.

For reference, JAEA and CLADS have requested from the Japanese applicants to include:

  • aims of joint research theme: describe the research goals and specific results that will be obtained from this collaboration, and how will these contribute to decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) and Sellafield
  • roles of UK and Japan research teams: describe the role of both UK and Japan based researchers in this project and how collaboration will occur
  • research approach: Japanese (research goal and plan), UK (research goal and plan)
  • expected outcomes: from the Japanese researchers, from the UK researchers and list the synergistic effects.

Work plan

One side of A4.

Justification of resources

Up to two sides of A4.

Outline of the project

Up to two sides of A4.

This should include details for both the UK and the Japan-based components. This should be uploaded as an ‘other document’. This document can include the requested information from JAEA and CLADs as above or act as a summary.

CVs

Optional. Up to two sides of A4.

For any named researchers, visiting researchers and researcher co-investigators, if applicable.

Project partner letter of support

Optional, where applicable. No page limit.

Uploaded as part of the project partner section on Je-S.

Technical assessment for the use of major facilities

Optional, where applicable. No page limit.

How to submit

You should attach your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface

Read advice on writing proposals (EPSRC).

EPSRC will not fund a project if it believes that there are ethical concerns that have been overlooked or not appropriately accounted for. All relevant parts of the ‘Ethical information’ section must be completed.

Read further guidance on completing the Je-S form.

EPSRC guidance can be found under ‘additional information’.

Please note that on submission to EPSRC all non-PDF documents uploaded onto Je-S are converted to PDF, the use of non-standard fonts may result in errors or font conversion, which could affect the overall length of the document.

Please ensure you adhere to the above attachment requirements when submitting your proposal. Any missing, over length or unnecessary attachments may result in your proposal being rejected.

How we will assess your application

Assessment process

EPSRC reserves the right to reject proposals which are considered to be outside of the remit of this call without reference to peer review.

Proposals will not undergo postal peer review, however pre-panel comments from panel members will be shared with applicants. Applicants will have an opportunity to make a response to these comments in writing before the panel.

Component proposals from Japan-based researchers will be assessed by interview panel in Japan. UK partners may be asked by their Japanese partners to contribute to the Japan interview via teleconference or video conference, but this is not mandatory.

There will not be an equivalent interview stage in the UK. Both UK and Japan based applicants will be notified of the outcomes of the interview at this stage.

Successful proposals from this stage will be assessed by a joint UK-Japan expert panel resulting in a rank-ordered list. The panel will make a combined assessment of the proposals against the EPSRC and MEXT assessment. The UK assessment criteria is listed below.

Funding decisions will be made following the outcomes of the combined panel, and applicants will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible after the panel meeting.

Assessment criteria

Proposals submitted to this call will be assessed on their fit to the scope of the call, and to the criteria listed below. Please note that EPSRC reserves the right to reject proposals which are considered out of the remit of this call without reference to peer review.

Standard criteria

Quality (primary)

Please comment on the degree of research excellence of the proposal, making reference to:

  • the novelty, relationship to the context, timeliness and relevance to identified stakeholders
  • the ambition, adventure, transformative aspects or potential outcomes
  • the suitability of the proposed methodology and the appropriateness of the approach to achieving impact. For multi-disciplinary proposals please state which aspects of the proposal you feel qualified to assess.

National importance (secondary major)

Comment on the national importance of the research. How it:

  • contributes to or helps maintain the health of other disciplines, contributes to addressing key UK societal challenges or contributes to future UK economic success and development of emerging industry or industries
  • meets national needs by establishing or maintaining a unique world-leading activity
  • complements other UK research funded in the area, including any relationship to the EPSRC portfolio
  • plans for dissemination and knowledge exchange with potential beneficiaries of the research.

Applicant and partnerships (secondary)

Please comment on the applicant’s ability to deliver the proposed project, making reference to:

  • appropriateness of the track record of the applicant or applicants
  • balance of skills of the project team, including collaborators. The leadership quality and experience of the principal investigator
  • effectiveness of planning and resource management
  • appropriateness of resources requested.

Call specific criteria

Fit to call

Alignment of research programme to aims and objectives of call.

Feedback

Proposals will not undergo postal peer review, however applicants will have an opportunity to make a response to pre-panel comments in writing before the panel. Reviewer comments will be available in the research office Je-S account for a limited time.

Component proposals from Japan-based researchers will be assessed by interview panel in Japan. There will not be an equivalent interview stage in the UK.

Both UK and Japan based applicants will be notified of the outcomes of the interview at this stage. If rejected at this stage, feedback will be given by JAEA and CLADs after the overall funding decision has been made.

Successful proposals from this stage will be assessed by a joint UK-Japan expert panel, resulting in a rank-ordered list.

The panel will make a combined assessment of the proposals against the EPSRC and MEXT assessment. Any specific panel feedback is sent to the applicant and research offices.

Contact details

Dr Andrew Eustace, Portfolio Manager, EPSRC

Email: andrew.eustace@epsrc.ukri.org
Telephone: 07738 260033

Mr Edward Jones, Portfolio Manager, EPSRC

Email: edward.jones@epsrc.ukri.org
Telephone: 07511 164817

Further help

For help and advice on costings and writing your proposal please contact your research office in the first instance, allowing sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process.

Any queries regarding the submission of proposals through Je-S should be directed to the Je-S helpdesk, staffed Monday to Thursday 8:30 to 17:00pm and Fridays 8:30 to 16:30 (excluding bank holidays and other holidays):

Email: JeSHelp@je-s.ukri.org
Telephone: 01793 444164

Additional info

Background

EPSRC, in collaboration with the Japanese MEXT and the Nuclear Safety Research Association (NSRA), seek collaborative research applications with UK and Japan-based principal investigators.

Applications are sought in the removal of fuel debris and environmental safety around reactor core decommissioning of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi NPP, and Sellafield’s decommissioning challenges.

EPSRC will fund the UK-based research and MEXT will fund the Japan-based research components. This call represents the eighth phase of the UK-Japan civil nuclear research programme and it is for small projects of approximately 30 months duration, with a fixed end date of 31 March 2024.

Grant additional conditions (GACs)

Grants will be subject to the standard UK Research and Innovation grant conditions, however the following additional grant conditions will be added to this call.

Start date

Notwithstanding RGC 5.2 Starting Procedures, this grant has a fixed start date of November 2020 – no slippage of this date will be permitted.

Expenditure may be incurred prior to the start of the grant and be subsequently charged to the grant, provided that it does not precede the date of the offer letter.

Survey

Please fill in the below survey as soon as you know you plan to submit a proposal to the call. This will give EPSRC an indication as to the number of expected applications and also help assist in forming an assessment panel.

Please detail the personnel involved with the proposal (principal investigator, co-investigator, project partners and so on).

Supporting documents

Equality impact assessment (DOC, 47KB)

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