What is Nuclear Energy?

A nuclear reactor consists of a series of machines that can control nuclear fission – splitting atoms – to produce electricity. The heat created warms the reactor’s cooling agent, which is usually water but some times liquid metal or molten salt. The cooling agent, heated by nuclear fission, produces steam. The steam then turns turbines or wheels, which in turn drives generators or engines that create electricity.

A by-product of nuclear energy is radioactive material, which needs to be safely stored for hundreds of years.

Why is it important?

  • Nuclear power generates clean electricity without producing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
  • Another advantage is that it is steady and reliable, complementing generation from renewable sources.
  • The UK Government has forecast that up to 16GW of the UK’s electricity supply could come from nuclear energy.

Our expertise & activities

Detailed research areas

  • Innovative materials to handle radioactive nuclear waste.
  • Waste volume minimisation using advanced fabrication technologies, low temperature routes to immobilisation and novel glass/ceramic compositions.
  • Development of concrete for nuclear reactors.
  • Eco-efficient and low-CO2 cements for infrastructure applications, including geopolymer cements.
  • Deep borehole disposal of radioactive material.
  • Seismic hazard assessment, soil-structure interaction and structural optimisation.
  • Separations and the chemical engineering processes of the nuclear fuel cycle as well as the interaction of ionizing radiation with these processes.

Key people (A-Z)

Dr Claire Corkhill
Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow, Nuclear Waste Materials

Prof. Fergus Gibb
Professor of Petrology & Geochemistry

Dr Maurizio Guadagnini
Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

Dr Iman Hajirasouliha
Lecturer in Structural Engineering

Prof. Neil Hyatt
Professor of Nuclear Materials Chemistry
Royal Academy of Engineering and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Research Chair in Radioactive Waste Management
Director, Immobilisation Science Laboratory, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Dr Hajime Kinoshita
Lecturer in Materials Chemistry, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Dr Cyril Lynsdale
Lecturer in Concrete Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Dr Mark Ogden
Lecturer in Chemical Engineering
Course director for MEng with Nuclear Technology

Dr Mihail Petkovski
Lecturer in Structural Dynamics

Professor Kypros Pilakoutas
Professor of Construction Innovation

Prof. John Provis
Professor of Cement Materials Science and Engineering

Dr Martin Stennett
University Teaching Associate in Nuclear Materials Chemistry

Dr Karl Travis
Reader in Computational Physics and Nuclear Waste Disposal

Prof. Mike Tynan
CEO, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC)

Prof. Brad Wynne
Culham Professor of Materials Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering


For more information please contact Prof. Neil Hyatt.