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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T011297/1
Title: Sim-Fuel and Alpha-Active Material Manufacturing and Characterisation Capability
Principal Investigator: Abram, Professor TJ
Other Investigators:
Harrison, Dr R Turner, Dr J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 November 2019 Ends: 31 March 2024 Value (£): 5,523,077
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy - Nuclear
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Aug 2019 National Nuclear User Facility Phase 2 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The aim of this proposal is to provide key equipment that will deliver an internationally-unique open-access academic capability to manufacture, irradiate, and examine the pre- and post-irradiation characteristics of a range of alpha-active radioactive materials containing uranium, thorium, and plutonium and other trans-uranic elements. This equipment will be pivotal in linking together around £35M of existing nuclear research infrastructure at the University of Manchester in order to fully realise their capabilities to explore a wide range of materials that are of critical importance to the nuclear sector.

The specific equipment requested is:

1. a Focussed Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope;

2. a Scanning/Transmission Electron Microscope; and

3. a plutonium-active inert-atmosphere glove-box for sample preparation.

Hitherto, the capability to manufacture, irradiate, and characterise uranium and plutonium containing materials has only been available within large government-owned national laboratory facilities. Whilst such facilities remain vital for research into very highly active samples and materials containing large quantities of trans-uranic elements, the availability of an academic capability that is able to work with kg-quantities of uranium and gram-quantities of plutonium will provide an opportunity for a far wider range of access, and the means to undertake highly detailed and insightful studies at costs and time-scales that are simply not possible within larger nuclear-licensed facilities.

The range of science and technology impacts enabled by the new equipment cover the full spectrum of the nuclear fuel cycle, and include: improved understanding of the performance of existing nuclear fuels to improve safety; the development of new fuel materials for existing and next-generation reactors; the production of representative surrogate irradiated fuels (i.e. SimFuels) to assist in the development of new recycle technologies for spent fuel; improved understanding of the behaviour of U and TRU-bearing materials within environmental samples; and improved understanding and development of materials to facilitate the disposal of radioactive wastes (e.g. immobilisation matrix materials). Researchers from all of these communities will be encouraged to access the internationally-leading capability that the new equipment provides.

In addition to creating a major body of knowledge on the performance of alpha-emitting radioactive materials for the variety of different applications mentioned above, the facilities will play a major role in providing training and education in the safe handling of alpha-active materials. This will provide a new generation of post-doctoral researchers with a range of skills that will be vital in ensuring the successful implementation of the Government's nuclear strategy in the coming decades.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk