Sheffield forges Japanese links to develop nuclear research

University of Sheffield academics are forging collaborative research links set to advance nuclear research across the UK and Japan and play a key role in the clear-up of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Following the UK Prime Minister David Cameron's first official visit to Japan, Professor Neil Hyatt, Royal Academy of Engineering and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Research Chair from the University of Sheffield, will today (Wednesday 11 April 2012) address a gathering of policy-makers and academics in Tokyo on the importance of international scientific collaboration, using the example of his role in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in communicating and managing risk.

The PM's visit included an announcement of an agreement between the UK and Japan for a Framework on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, providing the basis for UK companies and institutions to engage in multi-billion pound decommissioning opportunities and crucial nuclear research in Japan. Professor Hyatt's talk will provide insight into how this essential work can be successfully carried out.

Professor Hyatt's talk will address the multifaceted role that chemistry will play in the research and development needed to address national priorities. Professor Hyatt said: "Vital to achieving scientific advances, such as the extension and maintenance of nuclear capacity and ensuring the independent safe regulation of nuclear installations, is the development of skilled individuals in nuclear chemical sciences at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as exemplified by the Nuclear First Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Sheffield."

The University of Sheffield has also been awarded a grant by the Japan Society for Promotion of Science to establish a collaboration with Kyushu University to research the dissolution behaviour of spent nuclear fuel. Dr Claire Corkhill, from the Immobilisation Science Laboratory in the University of Sheffield's Department of Materials Science Engineering was awarded a Fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science to visit Kyushu University.

She will spend one month in Professor Inagaki's Nuclear Materials Chemistry Research Group, sharing expertise and learning techniques to study the dissolution (breakdown) of UK and Japanese nuclear waste forms when they are in contact with ground water. Dr Corkhill said: "This research will contribute towards building the safety case for the disposal of nuclear waste in deep underground disposal facilities. In light of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, this research is essential to promote the safe, off-site storage of nuclear waste."

Notes for Editors:
The Framework on Civil Nuclear Cooperation was announced Tuesday 10 April 2012 between the UK and Japanese governments. For more information on the agreement visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change: DECC

To find out more about the University of Sheffield's Nuclear First Doctoral Training Centre, visit: Nuclear First Doctoral Training Centre

Neil Hyatt is Professor of Nuclear Materials Chemistry at the University of Sheffield's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, a position jointly funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Royal Academy of Engineering. He also represented the Royal Society of Chemistry at today's talk. The Royal Society of Chemistry is the UK Professional Body for chemical scientists and an international Learned Society for the chemical sciences with more than 48,000 members worldwide. It is a major international publisher of chemical information, supports the teaching of chemical sciences at all levels and is a leader in bringing science to the public. RSC

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield - the 2011 Times Higher Education's University of the Year - is one of the largest in the UK. Its seven departments include over 4,000 students and 900 staff and have research-related income worth more than £50M per annum from government, industry and charity sources. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) confirmed that two thirds of the research carried out was either Internationally Excellent or Internationally Leading.

The Faculty of Engineering has a long tradition of working with industry including Rolls-Royce, Network Rail and Siemens. Its industrial successes are exemplified by the award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the new £25 million Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC).

The Faculty of Engineering is set to ensure students continue to benefit from world-class labs and teaching space through the provision of the University's new Engineering Graduate School. This brand new building, which will become the centre of the faculty's postgraduate research and postgraduate teaching activities, will be sited on the corner of Broad Lane and Newcastle Street. It will form the first stage in a 15 year plan to improve and extend the existing estate in a bid to provide students with the best possible facilities while improving their student experience.

For more information on the University's Faculty of Engineering visit:
Faculty of Engineering

Amy Stone, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2221046 or email a.f.stone@sheffield.ac.uk