University celebrates opening of national £3m nuclear research facility

The University of Sheffield has today (9 September 2015) celebrated the official opening of its new £3m advanced nuclear materials research facility, Materials for Innovative Disposition from Advanced Separations (MIDAS).

Research at MIDAS facility

Established as part of a national network of facilities to deliver the UK spent nuclear fuel research programme, MIDAS is jointly funded by the University and The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Following the Government’s planned expansion of nuclear power in the UK, academics in this national centre for research excellence will be developing new technologies and robust, efficient and environmentally sound strategies for the safe treatment and disposal of radioactive wastes.

More than 120 research experts were given a tour of the new facility and a demonstration of the state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. Visitors included representatives from the Nuclear Decommissioning Forum – Japan, Idaho National Laboratory - USA, and Areva – France, as well as the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change and Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

Professor Neil Hyatt, Facility Director, said: “Our mission with this facility is to provide a high quality environment for research on radioactive waste and disposal, supported by the world-class expertise we have here in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Sheffield. We are already working in collaboration with leading academics in the field and industrial users on a range of national and international research projects.”

Over £2.6 M of new funding has been secured for project research at the facility, including collaborations with Pohang University in South Korea.

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Britain is a world leader in nuclear power – from construction to generation to waste management – and it is key to our plans to deliver secure, low-carbon electricity and create jobs providing financial security for more hardworking people and their families.

“This Government backs the industries of the future and is committed to maintaining our position as global leaders in nuclear research. These new national facilities at the University of Sheffield will both enhance our thriving scientific and innovative skills base and play an important part in building the Northern Powerhouse."

The University also hosted the Nuclear Academics Discussion Meeting (NADM) 2015 on 8th-9th September. Organised by the EPSRC Nuclear Champion project, the meeting is a forum for the discussion of strategic nuclear challenges in the UK with a focus on how academics and universities can help. The theme for this year was ‘new reactor technologies’, with talks also being given on the situation in the UK and opportunities available with international partners, including Japan and India.

In addition, experts at the University have won funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a series of 7 seminars over the next 24 months, looking at the societal issues of storing and disposing of radioactive waste. In partnership with Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) Ltd, part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the seminars will bring together different parts of the research and technical communities.

Dr Susan Molyneux-Hodgson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, said: “We felt it was timely to provide our academic and technical experts with a new lens through which to consider societal issues around the long term storage of nuclear waste – to inform the current policy considerations both within the UK and abroad”.

The nuclear research carried out at the University of Sheffield is part of its Energy2050 initiative, bringing together academics and students actively working on a wide range of energy research.

Additional information

1. For futher information on the MIDAS (Materials for Innovative Disposition from Advanced Separations) lab: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/materials/centresandfacilities/midas
2. The labs will form part of the Nuclear National Users Facilities: http://www.nnuf.ac.uk/
3. For further information on the ESRC Seminar Series: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/socstudies/research/research-seminars/esrc-nuclear-futures
4. For more information on the University of Sheffield’s energy research activities, Energy2050: www.energy2050.ac.uk
5. DECC contributed grant funding of £800k to the MIDAS Facility.

Energy 2050

The University of Sheffield’s Energy2050 initiative is one of the largest energy research centres in the UK, bringing together over 120 academics and 250 PhD students active on a wide range of energy research – including nuclear, from innovative materials for safely storing radioactive waste to supporting the nuclear supply chain at our Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

Engineering at Sheffield

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield is one of the biggest in the UK. With seven departments and two interdisciplinary programmes covering all the engineering disciplines, 4,300 students, 950 staff and £50m annual research-related income from government, industry and charity, it is one of the best institutions in the world to study or do research in engineering.

Sociological Studies at Sheffield

The Department of Sociological Studies at the University of Sheffield has an established international reputation for excellence in teaching and research across the disciplines of social policy, sociology and social work. In the Research Excellence Framework 2014, 79% of the Department’s research was classed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. The Department was ranked the top Russell Group University in the North of England for the study of Sociology in the National Student Survey 2015.

The University of Sheffield

With almost 26,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2014 it was voted the number one university in the UK for Student Experience by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

Contact

For further information please contact: 

Hannah Postles
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 1046
h.postles@sheffield.ac.uk