10 December 2021

Leading academic appointed to Chief Scientist role at Radioactive Waste Management

Neil Hyatt, Professor of Radioactive Waste Management, will be leaving the University of Sheffield in the new year to take up the position of Chief Scientist at Radioactive Waste Management.

Professor Neil Hyatt

Neil Hyatt, Professor of Radioactive Waste Management in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering will be leaving the University in the new year to take up the position of Chief Scientist at Radioactive Waste Management.

This is a highly prestigious position, which reflects Neil’s standing in the field of Nuclear Waste Management, with more than 20 years of experience in leading and delivering research in radioactive waste management and disposal, supporting both the UK programme and a number overseas , including those in Japan, USA and Europe.

During his time at the University of Sheffield, Neil has accepted positions on the HM Government’s independent advisory Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) and Nuclear Innovation Research and Advisory Board, and has served as a participant and lead for IAEA missions. He was also Head of Department between 2015 and 2018.

Neil’s research has led to a number of significant developments in radioactive waste management, investigating a variety of options for immobilising radioactive waste so that it can be stored and disposed more safely. This includes thermal treatment processes, such as vitrification, which is favoured because of the reduced volume, improved passive safety, and superior long term stability, of the vitrified wasteform products.

These developments have enabled Sellafield Ltd to commit to building a £240M Plutonium Contaminated Material thermal treatment plant for the efficient treatment of large volumes of waste material generated over several decades.

Neil said: “I am delighted to be joining RWM as Chief Scientific Advisor, to support the safe management and disposal of the UK’s radioactive waste legacy. Science has a pivotal role in assuring the future safety of the UK’s proposed Geological Disposal Facility, and securing the trust and confidence of host communities in its development. I look forward to working with colleagues in RWM, NDA, communities and wider stakeholders, in taking this project forward.”

Professor Serena Cussen, Head of the University of Sheffield's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “While it is very sad to see Neil leave Sheffield, he departs with only our very best wishes.  It is fantastic for the UK to have someone of Neil's expertise and experience take on this important leadership role in radioactive waste management and I'm certain he will continue to be hugely successful.”

RWM is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and has the aim of delivering a geological disposal facility and providing radioactive waste management solutions.

Neil takes over the role of Chief Scientist from Professor Cherry Tweed, who has been in the role since 2011.

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