Lasers, explosions and radioactive contamination

One man's struggle with nuclear decommissioning.

Laser scabbing taking place

Laser scabbling is a decontamination technique used in nuclear decommissioning. Contamination in concrete tends to be limited to the surface material (~10mm), therefore by removing the contaminated surface the volume of hazardous waste can be reduced dramatically.

Application of a high power laser on concrete can cause the surface to be explosively ejected, which is subsequently collected by a vacuum system. Laser scabbling creates no secondary wastes and has no reaction forces meaning it can be operated remotely, i.e. taking workers out of radioactively contaminated areas.

Nobody is quite sure why the surface explodes off when a laser is applied to the concrete. This is where our research student, Ben Peach comes in. The aim of his work is to determine the mechanism responsible for laser scabbling.

Our league table rankings

Top 100 Civil & Structural Engineering department in the world and 9th in the UK according to the QS World University rankings by subject (2023).

10th in the UK according to the Times University League Table (2024).

12th in the UK according to the Complete University Guide (2024).