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New Centre to Develop Nuclear Decontamination Technologies

19 Nov 2012

A new ground breaking £1.2 million centre to research the decontamination and safe storage of nuclear waste is being established at The University of Manchester in partnership with Sellafield Ltd.

Research using a glove box in a Radiochemistry Laboratory

The centre will support Sellafield Ltd’s Decontamination and Effluent Treatment Centre of Expertise by complimenting the university’s existing research work at the world leading Dalton Nuclear Institute. It will also build on the research programmes at the University’s Centre for Radiochemistry Research and the Research Centre for Radwaste and Decommissioning.

The aim of the collaboration is to develop new technologies, as well as enhance current understanding of key existing nuclear technologies and develop effective and sustainable decontamination approaches.

Dr Nick Bryan from the School of Chemistry says: “The new centre is an opportunity for the University to enhance its nuclear research and to strengthen its links with a vital part of the nuclear industry. It will form part of The Dalton Nuclear Institute, which was established to foster collaboration across conventional discipline boundaries to allow interdisciplinary approaches to nuclear research challenges.”

The establishment of this industry leading centre demonstrates the commitment of the University to support industry research and development needs.

Professor Andrew Sherry, Director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute said, "We are delighted to be working strategically with Sellafield Ltd in this important area. The research excellence in our laboratories at Manchester and at our newly opened Dalton Cumbrian Facility at Westlakes will provide the new understanding needed to deliver step changes in decontamination and effluent treatment technologies".

Sellafield Ltd is the company responsible for safely delivering decommissioning, reprocessing and nuclear waste management activities on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority at Sellafield.

Some of the most complex engineering programmes in the world are taking place at the historic facilities at Sellafield as they are prepared for or are in the process of being decommissioned.

Alex Jenkins, technical specialist at Sellafield Ltd, said: “Sellafield Ltd is striving to significantly reduce the time and cost of the multi-billion pound decommissioning programme for the site by new developing technologies. We are looking at improved methods of decontamination and treating effluents and are working with The University of Manchester to develop research in this area and to efficiently focus skills and expertise in a bid to close the potential future skills gap in the nuclear industry.

Over the next few years, 10 Ph.D. students will be recruited to interdisciplinary research projects that will address important challenges for the UK, particularly in the areas of nuclear decontamination and effluent treatment. The students will benefit from the taught programme of the EPSRC Nuclear FiRST Centre for Doctoral Training.