EPSRC grants for nuclear fission reactor

Posted on 13 Oct 2019 and read 1204 times
EPSRC grants for nuclear fission reactorOxford University has been confirmed as one of the key UK players in a project to test materials for next-generation nuclear fission reactors.

Felix Hofmann (Department of Engineering Science, and David Armstrong (Department of Materials) have both been awarded EPSRC grants worth a total of £1 million to work with US partners, who will receive similar funding from the US-based Nuclear Engineering University Partnership Program.

Nuclear fission generates 20% of the UK’s electricity supply, but the current UK crop of nuclear reactors is rapidly ageing, and all of the reactors are scheduled to be removed from service in the next 12 years.

If they are not replaced, the electricity they generate will need to be provided by other sources.

Professor Hofmann said: “Moving to fossil fuels would increase the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“For successful decarbonisation by the 2050s, new build of future fission reactors in the UK is urgently needed.”

Two reactor types have been proposed that could offer dramatically improved efficiency over current water-cooled
reactors, but development has been at a standstill because of concern about the corrosion their high-temperature liquid coolants — liquid lead and lead-bismuth eutectic — would cause in the structural materials used.

The Oxford-led grants both aim to accelerate the understanding of the specific corrosion mechanisms involved and the
development of new materials that can operate in these extreme conditions.

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