Posted by Suzanna Hinson

In December 2014, DECC announced £2 million of funding for a new nuclear research and development facility and issued a call for proposals. Last week it announced that Amec Foster Wheeler has been selected to lead this project, which the government hopes will lead the UK into a new age of nuclear progress.

Amec are not alone in this endeavour: they head a consortium including the National Nuclear Laboratory, EDF Energy, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Urenco, the Dalton Nuclear Institute at the University of Manchester, the Universities of Bristol and Oxford, the Open University, and Imperial College London.

The new facility, which will be located at Amec’s existing high-temperature facility at Birchwood near Warrington, will support a range of innovative research but the main interest is high-temperature reactors. Specifically, there will be a focus on testing primary and secondary structural components and weld materials at temperatures up to 1000°C. Such conditions could be experienced in a range of future reactors including small modular reactors and other Generation IV designs.

The director of clean energy business consultancy at Amec, Greg Willetts said that the new research facility would help take the British industry back to being “a major contributor to advanced nuclear reactor technology”. This is an aim that Weinberg Next Nuclear very strongly support.


  1. John Stumbles says:

    1000C? That’s pretty impressive.
    Glad to see the UK punching above its weight in science and technology again! 🙂

    • Rob says:

      That is more like it this is the future of power generation, Liquid Fluoride Thorium ( Molten Salt ) Reactors are the way to go. It’s will save the world and give enough clean cheap, safe energy for the whole planet. Spread the word!

  2. John Preedy says:

    This is good news but!!!

    Here is the call for proposals for a High Temperature Materials Testing Suite
    and here is the announcement by Amec Foster Wheeler of the success of their bid.
    Note that the sum of money that is mentioned for this part of the programme is only £2 million. Hopefully there is much more to come. Forgive me for being cynical but announcements cost nothing!

  3. tomo says:

    £2 million is a pittance compared to the sums being delivered to the renewables “industry”.

    As I understand it Oak Ridge did an enormous amount of materials work that is still at least partially hidden since the documents have not been digitised in a sensible form and overly zealous “spring cleaning” has resulted in the loss of considerable amounts of work. An effort to bring that work into a usable format would be a worthwhile endeavor – Google might scan it?

    The involvement of a flock of academic bureaucrats in the UK actually does not bode terribly well for the future of high temperature reactors . The problems are essentially engineering issues and not pure science per se and diluting the already sparse funds across multiple academic research looks like a token gesture at best….

    What is wrong with say a competition to build a fluoride salt reactor – offering a prize commensurate with the benefits for the first to deliver a workable design?

    The arguments for salt reactors are to my mind even more compelling than say Reaction Engines in the aerospace field and the example of Reaction Engines in gathering expertise and enthusiasm looks far in a way better than doling out a few miserable crumbs to individual academic institutions where the funds will simply dissipate to little effect as was seen during AGR development in the UK……

  4. Gavin McAneny says:

    2 million an utter joke

    With urenco’s stockpile of ‘waste’ and a thorium/burner breeder using molten salt it should be 2 billion.

    Plus however many hundreds of millions rolls royce need for supercritical co2 turbines research with a golden share retained for the taxpayer and mankind leaving hydrocarbons in the ground.

    Before we pay the Chinese to do it and own it. Wake up corbyn and Cameron

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