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
- Our Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) has supported over 450 companies to win nuclear manufacturing contracts. It also provides access to over £25m worth of specialist equipment; and is part of the UK Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult
- We are supporting UK considerations on Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
- We are part of the national training centre for nuclear PhDs, with all projects sponsored by industry
- Our new £3m Waste Management and Immobilisation Laboratory (known as MIDAS) is a leading UK centre looking at innovative materials for handling radioactive waste
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 Susan Molyneux-Hodgson
Senior Lecturer in Sociology
Director of Research, Department of Sociology
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)
Dr Karl Whittle
Senior Lecturer in Nuclear Materials
Prof. Brad Wynne
Culham Professor of Materials Technology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
For more information please contact Prof. Neil Hyatt.