National Nuclear User Facility: Radioactive Waste Disposal and Environmental Remediation (RADER).

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Earth Atmospheric and Env Sciences

Abstract

The ability to handle and characterise complex environmental samples which are radioactive lies at the heart of nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste management research yet there is a paucity of such facilities in the UK. Central to the study of these materials is the ability to access a range of instruments to allow characterisation of their radiological and environmental characteristics across a wide range of techniques including radiometric, solution and solids analysis. In addition, facilities which allow radioactive sample manipulation under controlled conditions, and radioactive sample preparation for optimal sample analysis are core to enabling high quality research.
In the NNUF2 facility RADER, we will enable environmental radioactivity research by creating a suite of laboratories dedicated to radioactive sample handling and environmental analysis. Notably, the dedicated characterisation instrumentation in RADER will be able to accept materials with a range of radionuclides. This unique facility will allow straightforward access to analyses which are currently unavailable in the UK community for radioactive samples. RADER will also work with other NNUF2 user capabilities to analyse radioactive, environmental samples at the atomic scale (using electron microscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy techniques) and to allow e.g. irradiation of samples in the study of the impacts of radiation chemistry on radionuclide speciation and fate. In combination with the RADER capabilities, this will allow seamless analysis of complex environmental samples from the atomic, through the microscopic and bulk structure, essential if we are to build robust mechanistic understanding of radionuclide behaviour in engineered and natural environments to underpin radioactive waste management and environmental remediation research.
RADER will enable environmental radioactivity research from model experimental systems focussed on understanding the fundamental mechanisms of effluent treatment and microbial interactions in high hazard spent nuclear fuel ponds, through contaminated site studies focussed on understanding transport of radionuclides in the shallow sub-surface over decadal timescales, and including work on radionuclide mobility in the subsurface relating to deep geological disposal of higher activity radioactive wastes. It will also enable us to work with authentic, radioactive site materials and samples to further understand long term speciation and fate in engineered and natural environments. The research outputs from this new world class capability will underpin national efforts in radioactive waste disposal and environmental remediation at a critical time.

Planned Impact

RADER will provide a state-of-the-art facility for characterising radioactive materials using radiometric and environmental analytical techniques and allowing improved understanding of radionuclide speciation and fate in engineered and natural environments. This will provide immediate benefit to the RADER user community who have had highly restricted environmental analytical capabilities for radioactive samples.

RADER fully aligns with the priorities of the Nuclear Sector Deal, as a critical enabler for reduction in decommissioning costs, and the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, as an enabler of safe, sustainable and low carbon nuclear energy generation.

Users will benefit from the state-of-the-art RADER laboratories and equipment which are designed to handle and analyse radioactive samples relevant to engineered and natural environments. This will enable translational research across academia and industry with input from, and relevance to key stakeholders.

Industry stakeholders will benefit from improved understanding, awareness and capacity to undertake RADER related research activity in the UK community. Examples of impact enabled by RADER include: improvements to effluent treatment plant operations leading to environmental benefit; improvements to management of radioactively contaminated sites for example new technologies to treat mobile contaminants leading to environmental benefit, or new understanding of long term fate of radionuclides enabling optimal site management leading to economic benefit; improved characterisation of nuclear materials leading to improved understanding of nuclear security issues; and new understanding of radionuclide speciation and fate in radioactive waste management underpinning the UKs forward programmes in low, intermediate and high level waste disposal.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Work in the RADER space includes collaboration with the nuclear sector - Sellafield and RWM. The results from RADER analyses are now being presented to these partners and impact from the research work is developing.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal

 
Description LLWR - NERC Studentship
Amount £70,000 (GBP)
Organisation Low Level Waste Repository Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 04/2021
 
Description NDA Bursary In situ Disposal
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation Nuclear Decommissioning Authority NDA 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 04/2021
 
Description NDA Bursary Novel investigation techniques for radioactive discharge pipelines
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation Nuclear Decommissioning Authority NDA 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 04/2022
 
Description NERC Responsive Mode
Amount £650,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Optical Imaging of Uranium Biotransformations by Microorganisms (OPTIUM) NE/R011230/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
End 06/2021
 
Description NNL Effluent Centre of Expertise Fellowship
Amount £800,000 (GBP)
Organisation National Nuclear Laboratory 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description RWM RSO
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation Nuclear Decommissioning Authority NDA 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 09/2025
 
Description RWM RSO PhD Bentonite
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Organisation Nuclear Decommissioning Authority NDA 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 12/2025
 
Description Radioactive Waste Management Research Support Office
Amount £2,500,000 (GBP)
Organisation Government of the UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2024
 
Description Research Fellow in Environmental Radioactivity
Amount £180,000 (GBP)
Organisation British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 09/2024
 
Description STFC, Diamond Light Source. University of Manchester Nuclear Environment and Waste Block Allocation Grant 2.
Amount £900,000 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 01/2021
 
Description Sellafield Ltd. Effluent Treatment PhD
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation Sellafield Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2020 
End 09/2024
 
Description Sellafield Ltd. PhD on Colloids in Effluent Treatment
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation Sellafield Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 04/2022
 
Description Sellafield Ltd. PhD on Iron Oxide Chemistry and Radionuclide fate in Effluent Treatment
Amount £120,000 (GBP)
Organisation Sellafield Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2018 
End 04/2022
 
Description Relationship with RWM Research Support Office 
Organisation Nuclear Decommissioning Authority NDA
Department Radioactive Waste Management
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The University of Manchester and University of Sheffield host the RWM Research Support Office. The NNUF RADER Labs were developed to support work with low level radioactive samples relevant to nuclear decommissioning and radioactive waste disposal. The labs are seeing investment from RWM into competitively tendered research projects including 3 new PhD projects in 2021. RWM wrote a LoS for the NNUF Rader Facility, and we are realising investment from RWM in competitive processes to support the lab use.
Collaborator Contribution The RWM RSO is a collaboration between RWM and UoManchester and UoSheffield to deliver underpinning research to support implementation of the UKs geological disposal facility for higher activity radioactive waste. The RADER Labs were founded on support from RWM (and others) and we are now realising research investment from RWM from competitive tender processes to support PhDs. We note we are co-funding some PhDs with UKRI funding, and RWM is fully supporting some PhDs.
Impact No outputs as yet.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Sellafield Effluents Centre of Expertise 
Organisation Sellafield Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The UoM Sellafield Centre of Expertise has been operational since 2014, and Sellafield provided a LoS for the NNUF RADER facility. Since starting the NNUF RADER investment, we have received funding from Sellafield Ltd. over 200,000 to support a research fellow and 3 PhD students. The NNUF RADER labs added significant support to the facilities at UoM and were beneficial in developing a case with Sellafield Ltd. for joint PhD studentships between UKRO EPSRC GREEN CDT and Sellafield Ltd.
Collaborator Contribution Sellafield and NNL are engaged with UoM in the Effluent Centre of Expertise. They have shared extensive on-site knowledge of the effluent treatment at Sellafield, have provided samples, have allowed placements at Sellafield and have adapted techniques developed within the ECOE to their industrial processes. The exchange forms the basis of a REF Impact Case Study, and NERC have asked us to develop it into a cross council impact case study for BEIS and NERC.
Impact Since RADER was initiated no papers have been published that have used RADER analyses (they only became available since Jan 2021). Several Effluent CoE projects are using RADER equipment day in, day out.
Start Year 2014
 
Description NNUF RADER participation in NNUF Kick off event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact RADER attended the NNUF kick off event, and partook in a show and tell about the new facilities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description RADER Engagement in UK Fission R&D Catalog 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NNUF Brochure Opportunities for Industry curated by NNUF staff. https://www.nnuf.ac.uk/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.nnuf.ac.uk/