Dalton Cumbria Facility officially opens

Dalton 200West Cumbria is now home to a globally unique nuclear research, skills and education network after the opening of a £20m university research centre near Whitehaven. 

The Dalton Cumbria Facility (DCF) – a joint investment by the University of Manchester and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) – was officially opened on Friday, September 6.

The centre, on the Westlakes Science Park, will offer world-leading academic research into radiation science and nuclear engineering decommissioning.

It adds to a network that includes the National Nuclear Laboratory at Sellafield, training centre Energus at Lillyhall and the Construction Skills Centre, near Workington, making west Cumbria one of the only places in the world to offer the full range of skills, education and research and development facilities in one area. It also marks the full delivery of a set of commitments made in the NDA’s first ever strategy, published in 2006, which pledged to establish a series of facilities designed to equip the current and future workforce at Sellafield and other UK nuclear sites with the skills and knowledge to complete the NDA’s mission.

Adrian Simper, the NDA’s Director of Strategy & Technology said: “The NDA has always believed that a world class nuclear research centre is a key component for the success of the decommissioning mission, recognised by our significant investment in the Dalton Cumbria Facility.

“Locating the DCF here in west Cumbria provides a unique combination of a world class research facility with appropriate staff and equipment, able to work collaboratively with the likes of the National Nuclear Laboratory, close to the Sellafield site that presents us with the most significant decommissioning and radiological challenges.

“More broadly, the DCF and its links with NNL add to existing NDA investments in the likes of  Energus and the Construction Skills Centre, to provide west Cumbria with an unrivalled network of research, education and training infrastructure that brings benefits to the decommissioning mission, the nuclear industry and the local economy and community.”

The overall aims of the DCF are to deliver world-leading nuclear research and the transfer of knowledge to industry.

The facility is fully equipped following delivery and commissioning of a particle accelerator, the largest and most complex research equipment to be housed at DCF.

The DCF incorporates detailed computer modelling capability and large-scale experimental laboratories, including extensive irradiation facilities and associated analytical and inspection equipment, to provide a comprehensive research environment.

Through the DCF, the University has pioneered unique academic access to the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)’s extensive R&D and engineering facilities at the Central Laboratory, situated on the Sellafield site, and at Workington. This access, available to wider UK academia, is vital to support full lifecycle development and deployment of innovative technologies.

The Rt Hon The Lord Hutton of Furness, who officially opened the facility, said: “I commend The University of Manchester and the NDA for the foresight, vision and commitment they have shown in creating this new Dalton Cumbrian Facility — a world-leading facility for nuclear research, for nuclear skills development and a major driver for socio-economic growth in West Cumbria.”

Professor Colin Bailey, Vice President & Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester, said: “The University of Manchester’s Dalton Cumbrian Facility will integrate with the UK’s other nuclear R&D facilities to establish a truly unique and world-leading capability.

“Working closely with NNL and other nuclear stakeholders, the DCF will create a seamless team of academic researchers and industrial experts to ensure that transformational research, and the development and deployment of technologies, addresses the most challenging nuclear issues.”