National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has opened its doors to leading academics from a host of universities, interested in bringing their own research to NNL’s world-leading facilities. The open day at NNL’s flagship Central Laboratory in Cumbria – a £250M state-of-the-art nuclear research facility – attracted around 25 representatives from 17 different universities.
Last month, NNL announced that access agreements to work in Central Laboratory had been signed, extending the existing agreement with The University of Manchester and opening up access for The University of Liverpool. These Licence to Occupy agreements have been made possible through an access agreement developed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, working with NNL. The longer-term intention is to broaden this access to any UK academic research groups who wish to do work with radioactive materials which they cannot do in their own university facilities. NNL’s Central Laboratory combines with the new Dalton Cumbrian Facility, established by the Dalton Nuclear Institute and the NDA, to act as a national hub for active materials and chemistry research, with links to nuclear research facilities across the UK. This enhances the national capability and enables academics to access world-leading facilities in West Cumbria.
NNL’s Central Laboratory is located on the Sellafield site in West Cumbria. It is managed by NNL and – like the rest of the Sellafield site – it is ultimately owned by the NDA. The access agreements with universities are possible as a result of agreement and support from NDA and The University of Manchester. In all, a total of 10% of the Central Laboratory is available for academic research and access can be made available to any UK universities.
Leigh Wakefield, NNL’s Facilities and Safety Director, said:
“I am delighted that so many academics have shown interest in following in the footsteps of Manchester and Liverpool. NNL has a specific remit from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to enable the use of our unique facilities by others and this open day is another major step towards that goal. We are looking forward to working with many of the attendees, and their colleagues, in the future as they bring their research work to the Central Laboratory.”
Prof Andrew Sherry, Director of the Dalton Nuclear Institute, commented:
“We have already had the chance to do some important work in the Central Laboratory and have found the experience to be very valuable. These facilities are comparable to anything in the world and it is a fantastic opportunity for UK universities to have access to the Central Laboratory available to us. It allows us to boost the quality, quantity and impact of the research work we do in the nuclear field. We have been very impressed with the level of training and supervision which our researchers have received from NNL, and the individuals who have worked here have gained an invaluable insight into what it is like to work in a real nuclear facility, with all of the safety, security and other issues involved.”