Research into issues concerning the generation of electricity by harnessing energy released when an atom’s nucleus splits.
This research area looks into issues concerning the generation of electricity by harnessing energy released when an atom’s nucleus splits.
- waste management and nuclear decommissioning
- fuel recycling and reprocessing
- efficient and safer fuels
- reactor plant life extension
- advanced nuclear technologies
- new nuclear builds
- existing operations
- public acceptability
- geological waste disposal.
Nuclear power is a key low-carbon power generation option, forming a significant part of the UK’s electricity generation capacity. It will play an important role in the UK’s future low-carbon energy mix and meeting the government’s 2050 greenhouse gas emissions targets. EPSRC will therefore sustain the UK’s research capabilities in this area.
The strategic direction of this research area depends on government and industry in terms of policy and national infrastructure. The community should be responsive to evolving needs and contribute to the decision-making processes.
EPSRC seeks to maintain and develop an effective international collaboration strategy and invest in research infrastructure requirements to accelerate the implementation of technologies through the National Nuclear User Facility. To maintain the UK’s capabilities, EPSRC will continue to identify and invest in skill and training gaps.
The research community will play an integral role in helping to deliver the government’s ambitions, including the building of new nuclear power stations planned for England and Wales, by overcoming new build, and decommissioning research challenges.
In 2017, National Grid published Future Energy Scenarios calling for nuclear supplying over 30% of demand by 2050. To achieve this, industry must develop cost-competitive products, and ensure timely, cost-effective delivery. Research is needed to underpin reactor design and development, monitoring, and asset decommissioning. International collaboration will be key to success, especially in creating economic value for the UK.
As ever, public backing for nuclear is important to overcome challenges, as is working with regulators and policy makers.
Our first aim is to have the community continue to undertake multidisciplinary, highly collaborative research and training in this area, addressing the challenges of building, operating and decommissioning faced by current and future nuclear build programmes.
Clean up, decommissioning and waste disposal
We are facilitating the development of approaches for implementing safe, cost-effective clean up, decommissioning and waste disposal of existing and future nuclear sites and facilities.
Maintain UK capability
We will ensure that capability is maintained in internationally recognised areas of UK strength – for example, decommissioning, waste management, fuel reprocessing.
Diversity of skills
We aim to balance the diversity of highly skilled people across career stages to ensure areas of low capacity are bolstered.
Closer links with industry
We are facilitating impact acceleration and deployment of innovative solutions from the academic community, through closer links with industry, and other key stakeholders including the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).
Working with other countries
We also encourage continued engagement with key countries, like Japan, the US and India, to access specialist facilities and sites of interest, and share resources and knowledge supporting research and development.
Delivery of infrastructure
We aim to manage delivery of research infrastructure investment through the National Nuclear User Facility.
Robotics and artificial intelligence
Our aim is to develop a holistic approach to nuclear research challenges, including integrating new perspectives generated by robotics and artificial intelligence investments.
The strategic focus for this research area takes into account the national research priorities identified by the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Energy Innovation Board, and challenges faced by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and National Nuclear Laboratory.