Seascale, United Kingdom
Seascale, United Kingdom

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Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 3.72M | Year: 2014

The conditions in which materials are required to operate are becoming ever more challenging. Operating temperatures and pressures are increasing in all areas of manufacture, energy generation, transport and environmental clean-up. Often the high temperatures are combined with severe chemical environments and exposure to high energy and, in the nuclear industry, to ionising radiation. The production and processing of next-generation materials capable of operating in these conditions will be non-trivial, especially at the scale required in many of these applications. In some cases, totally new compositions, processing and joining strategies will have to be developed. The need for long-term reliability in many components means that defects introduced during processing will need to be kept to an absolute minimum or defect-tolerant systems developed, e.g. via fibre reinforcement. Modelling techniques that link different length and time scales to define the materials chemistry, microstructure and processing strategy are key to speeding up the development of these next-generation materials. Further, they will not function in isolation but as part of a system. It is the behaviour of the latter that is crucial, so that interactions between different materials, the joining processes, the behaviour of the different parts under extreme conditions and how they can be made to work together, must be understood. Our vision is to develop the required understanding of how the processing, microstructures and properties of materials systems operating in extreme environments interact to the point where materials with the required performance can be designed and then manufactured. Aligned with the Materials Genome Initiative in the USA, we will integrate hierarchical and predictive modelling capability in fields where experiments are extremely difficult and expensive. The team have significant experience of working in this area. Composites based on exotic materials such as zirconium diborides and silicon carbide have been developed for use as leading edges for hypersonic vehicles over a 3 year, DSTL funded collaboration between the 3 universities associated with this proposal. World-leading achievements include densifying them in <10 mins using a relatively new technique known as spark plasma sintering (SPS); measuring their thermal and mechanical properties at up to 2000oC; assessing their oxidation performance at extremely high heat fluxes and producing fibre-reinforced systems that can withstand exceptionally high heating rates, e.g. 1000oC s-1, and temperatures of nearly 3000oC for several minutes. The research planned for this Programme Grant is designed to both spin off this knowledge into materials processing for nuclear fusion and fission, aerospace and other applications where radiation, oxidation and erosion resistance at very high temperatures are essential and to gain a deep understanding of the processing-microstructure-property relations of these materials and how they interact with each other by undertaking one of the most thorough assessments ever, allowing new and revolutionary compositions, microstructures and composite systems to be designed, manufactured and tested. A wide range of potential crystal chemistries will be considered to enable identification of operational mechanisms across a range of materials systems and to achieve paradigm changing developments. The Programme Grant would enable us to put in place the expertise required to produce a chain of knowledge from prediction and synthesis through to processing, characterisation and application that will enable the UK to be world leading in materials for harsh environments.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA | Phase: Fission-2013-2.1.1 | Award Amount: 10.28M | Year: 2013

Preparing NUGENIA for HORIZON 2020 The objective of the NUGENIA\ project is to support the NUGENIA Association in its role to coordinate and integrate European research on safety of the Gen II and III nuclear installations in order to better ensure their safe long term operation, integrating private and public efforts, and initiating international collaboration that will create added value in its activity fields. The project consists of two parts, the first part being a Coordination and Support Action and the second part a Collaborative Project. The aim of the first part, the Coordination and Support Action, is to establish an efficient, transparent and high quality management structure to carry out the planning and management of R&D including project calls, proposal evaluation, project follow-up dissemination and valorisation of R&D results in the area of safety of existing Gen II and future Gen III nuclear installations. The preparatory work will encompass governance, organizational, legal and financial work, as well as the establishment of annual work plans, with the aim to structure public-public and/or private-public joint programming enabling NUGENIA to develop into the integrator of the research in the respective field in Europe. The management structure will build on the existing organisation of the NUGENIA Association, currently grouping over 70 nuclear organisations from research and industry (utilities, vendors and small and medium enterprises) active in R&D. In the second part, the Collaborative project, one thematic call for research proposals will be organized among the technical areas of plant safety and risk assessment, severe accident prevention and management, core and reactor performance, integrity assessment of systems, structures and components, innovative Generation III design and harmonisation of procedures and methods. The call will take place one year after the start of the project. The call will implement the priorities recognised in the NUGENIA Roadmap, in line with the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) strategies. The research call which is going to be organised within the project is open to all eligible organisations. The NUGENIA\ project will benefit from the experience of the NUGENIA Association member organisations on managing national research programmes and from the track record of the NUGENIA project portfolio.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA | Phase: Fission-2013-2.2.1 | Award Amount: 10.36M | Year: 2013

Preparing ESNII for HORIZON 2020 The aim of this cross-cutting project is to develop a broad strategic approach to advanced fission systems in Europe in support of the European Sustainable Industrial Initiative (ESNII) within the SET-Plan. The project aims to prepare ESNII structuration and deployment strategy, to ensure efficient European coordinated research on Reactor Safety for the next generation of nuclear installations, linked with SNETP SRA priorities. The ESNII\ project aims to define strategic orientations for the Horizon 2020 period, with a vision to 2050. To achieve the objectives of ESNII, the project will coordinate and support the preparatory phase of legal, administrative, financial and governance structuration, and ensure the review of the different advanced reactor solutions. The project will involve private and public stakeholders, including industry, research and academic communities, with opened door to international collaboration, involving TSO.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 832.88K | Year: 2015

This collaborative R&D project follows on from the successful “Mosaicing for Automatic Pipe Scanning (MAPS)” TSB Feasibility Study that confirmed the feasibility of a novel approach to combining optical hardware and advanced image processing techniques for interactive 3D remote visual inspection (RVI) of pipe work in the nuclear industry. The project aims to progress from this feasibility study to a ruggedized prototype which will be deployed and demonstrated in a range of test environments, both in the laboratory and on-site. The five member consortium includes Inspectahire (INS), University of Strathclyde (UoS), Wideblue Ltd and a nuclear site licence company and is led by National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). The specification of the hardware will be driven by the supply chain companies (NNL and INS) and the nuclear site license company (SL), to meet both their existing needs and the emerging opportunities associated with reactor lifetime extension and new build programmes both in the UK and overseas. The combination of skills within the consortium is unique, and as such this proposal represents a unique opportunity to develop a world leading capability for nuclear inspection.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-23-2014 | Award Amount: 6.38M | Year: 2015

The RoMaNS (Robotic Manipulation for Nuclear Sort and Segregation) project will advance the state of the art in mixed autonomy for tele-manipulation, to solve a challenging and safety-critical sort and segregate industrial problem, driven by urgent market and societal needs. Cleaning up the past half century of nuclear waste, in the UK alone (mostly at the Sellafield site), represents the largest environmental remediation project in the whole of Europe. Most EU countries face related challenges. Nuclear waste must be sorted and segregated, so that low-level waste is placed in low-level storage containers, rather than occupying extremely expensive and resource intensive high-level storage containers and facilities. Many older nuclear sites (>60 years in UK) contain large numbers of legacy storage containers, some of which have contents of mixed contamination levels, and sometimes unknown contents. Several million of these legacy waste containers must now be cut open, investigated, and their contents sorted. This can only be done remotely using robots, because of the high levels of radioactive material. Current state-of-the-art practice in the industry, consists of simple tele-operation (e.g. by joystick or teach-pendant). Such an approach is not viable in the long-term, because it is prohibitively slow for processing the vast quantity of material required. The project will: 1) Develop novel hardware and software solutions for advanced bi-lateral master-slave tele-operation. 2) Develop advanced autonomy methods for highly adaptive automatic grasping and manipulation actions. 3) Combine autonomy and tele-operation methods using state-of-the-art understanding of mixed initiative planning, variable autonomy and shared control approaches. 4) Deliver a TRL 6 demonstration in an industrial plant-representative environment at the UK National Nuclear Lab Workington test facility.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: Innovate UK | Program: | Phase: Collaborative Research & Development | Award Amount: 706.71K | Year: 2015

The proposed work aims to improve the understanding of graphite fracture and irradiation creep behaviour by studying large specimens extracted from a reactor at end-of-service. This uniquely will enable valid fracture and creep data to be determined on material that had seen reactor conditions to high dose and weight loss conditions. Current data are determined on small specimens that are either unirradiated or irradiated in materials test reactors. In particular, the likely life-limiting failure mode is through a process known as keyway root cracking. Here a crack initiates at a sharp re-entrant corner; to study this failure mode in particular requires specimens of sufficient size to give a valid range of notch geometries. In addition, the relaxation of stress by irradiation creep is a key process to mitigate processes at sharp corners. No work on irradiation creep has been performed on corner geometries or at high tensile strain; both of these will be addressed in the current proposal. The results will allow the continued safe operation of reactors, enabling low carbon energy to be produced in the UK.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: COMPET-09-2014 | Award Amount: 1.01M | Year: 2015

The objective of this proposal is to investigate the necessary demonstration activities in order to mature technologies for nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) systems that is considered one of the key enabler to allow deep exploration and science missions both manned and unmanned. The DEMOCRITOS projects aims to define three Demonstrator Concepts in regards to NEP technologies: 1. Detailed preliminary designs of ground experiments that will allow maturing the necessary technologies in the field of MW level nuclear electric propulsion. The project will investigate the interaction of the major subsystems (thermal, power management, propulsion, structures and conversion) with each other and a (simulated) nuclear core providing high power, in the order of several hundred kilowatts. 2. Nuclear reactor cost studies and simulations to provide feedback to the simulated nuclear core of DEMOCRITOS ground experiments as well as conceptualize the concept of nuclear space reactor and outline the specifications for a Core Demonstrator, including an analysis of the regulatory and safety framework that will be necessary for such a demonstration to take place on the ground. 3. System architecture and robotic studies that will investigate in detail the overall design of a high power nuclear spacecraft, together with a pragmatic strategy for assembly in orbit of such a large structure coupled with a nuclear reactor. Additionally, the project partners will define a programmatic plan, insuring that the demonstrators can be built, tested, and reach the established ambitious objectives, this with a clear organization between international partners and with costs shared in a sustainable way. DEMOCRITOS aims to form a cluster around NEP related technologies by organizing an international workshop and invite external stakeholders to propose ideas for the ground and flight demonstrators or possibly join in the effort to realize the ground demonstrator experiments.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: STFC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 230.48K | Year: 2016

The nature and scale of the task to decommission the UKs legacy nuclear facilities inherited by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has been historically poorly characterised and highly uncertain. A key objective for the NDA is to form a comprehensive understanding of the work to be done and the associated costs. Although uncertainties still remain, the total discounted costs of completing the NDAs mission were estimated in 2013/14 to be £69.4 billion. An understanding of the nature of legacy waste is an essential part of the decommissioning process. This proposal targets the process of locating and identifying the nature of the gamma-ray emitting radioisotopes present in legacy nuclear waste. The ability to locate, characterise and correctly partition the waste is key to this strategy and will contribute to a significant reduction in the costs associated with the decommissioning effort. This knowledge exchange project brings together the University of Liverpool Nuclear Physics Group, STFC Daresbury Laboratory, Canberra UK Ltd and National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) to develop a field capable gamma-ray sensor, couple it with an existing 3-D vision system and provide control software and reconstruction algorithms for real time image fusion. This system will enable reliable quantification of waste into free-release/low/intermediate level brackets, with the potential to significantly reduce the cost and time of decommissioning.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: NFRP-16-2015 | Award Amount: 2.05M | Year: 2015

The overall aim of the project is to create greater security of energy supply and contribute to the security of supply of nuclear fuel for Russian designed pressurized water reactors (VVER) operating in the EU by diversification of fuel sources in the short / medium term and in full compliance with nuclear safety standards. By that, the project addresses the topic NFRP 16 2015. The scientific objectives of the proposed project include increased knowledge concerning the behaviour of the VVER-440 fuel during operation. State-of-the-art methods will be verified against an extensive database, including operating experience from several VVER-440 reactors as well as a number of other reactor designs and a wide range of operating conditions. The ability to accurately predict the fuel behaviour will be improved and thereby also the safety margins. New knowledge as well as identification of needs of technology development and improvements will be created in the fields of technologies for mechanical design, thermo-mechanical fuel rod design, and safety analysis for VVER fuel. In addition to the technological advances, the project will identify the variation in licensing requirements between the authorities in the different countries. Through such identification, it will become clear that standardization would be beneficial and will foster a dialogue between the authorities/regulatory bodies. The new knowledge will be exploited through innovation processes but will also be used for further research and recommendation to policy makers as well as for creating impact among the target groups of the project. Results will be presented to the members of the VVER community, i.e. the utilities, universities and other organizations with close links to the nuclear energy industry. Articles and papers presenting the work and the results of the project will be targeted for nuclear industry, magazines and conferences.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: NFRP-06-2014 | Award Amount: 4.71M | Year: 2015

The multidisciplinary project will address key technical issues that must be tackled to support the implementation of planned geological disposal projects for higher-level radioactive wastes across the EU. Our current understanding of the impact of microbial metabolism on the safety of geological repositories remains tenuous, even though microorganisms may have controlling influences on wasteform evolution in situ, multibarrier integrity and ultimately radionuclide migration from the repository. This proposal targets a number of high urgency and high importance topics identified in the most recent IGD-TP Strategic Research Agenda, focusing specifically on the influence of microbial processes on waste forms and their behavior, and the technical feasibility and long-term performance of repository components. The project will bring together, for the first time, 15 European groups working on the impact of microbial processes on safety cases for geological repositories across the EU, focusing on key questions posed by waste management organisations. The emphasis will be on quantifying specific measureable impacts of microbial activity on safety cases under repository-relevant conditions, thus altering the current view of microbes in repositories and leading to significant refinements of safety case models currently being implemented to evaluate the long-term evolution of radwaste repositories. The integration of society and policy oriented studies in the project will also extend the impact of the project outside the scientific and technical domain, while a study of expert conceptualization, public perception and risk communication concerning microbial influences in geological disposal, will improve awareness of microbial issues on a broader level. The programme will help the EU claim international leadership in the understanding of the impact of microbial processes on geodisposal, and indeed other technological areas pertinent to the exploitation of the subsurface.

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