Bangor University Fuel Fabrication Facility (BUFFF)

Lead Research Organisation: Bangor University
Department Name: Sch of Computer Science & Electronic Eng

Abstract

The Bangor University Fuel Fabrication Facility (BUFFF) draws on a great deal of the UK's academic experience, combined with impactful industry involvement to provide an easily accessible user facility to drive our international standing in fuels research (see LOS from international institutions). This facility will provide access to an industrially relevant nuclear fuel manufacturing facility that is highly complementary to existing and proposed NNUF facilities.

BUFFF enables the investigation and research of a range of nuclear fuels and other nuclear industry relevant ceramics, progressing them from powders (provided in part by the industrial sponsors) through to blends, pressed green pellets and then sintered bodies. The sintering furnace at the centre of BUFFF being a one of a kind piece of equipment in the UK and world-leading: providing the ability to tailor the sintering atmosphere in an industrially applicable manner but on a laboratory scale, whilst also having the ability to observe the sintering process in-situ using a range of digital image correlation techniques (with further techniques to be developed using the facility) whilst monitoring the sintering atmosphere using techniques including gas-chromatography-mass-spectrometry (GC-MS). Pre-processing characterisation provisions are also included, assessing variables such as stoichiometry and powder size distribution.

BUFFF has been grown out of a close collaboration with the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield, the University of Bristol, Westinghouse, AWE and the National Nuclear Laboratory, all who represent key users of the facility. Importantly, these institutions host a number of relevant NNUF facilities that other users can use combined with the BUFFF provisions.

The BUFFF will provide a key educational resource to the UK universities - enabling hands-on experience for students enrolled on CDT courses and beyond - something not currently available in the UK. A significant online presence will also be fostered to provide educational tools and enable outreach activities.

The access models to the user facility are varied depending on the experience level and the requirements of the user in order to facilitate rapid access of industrially relevant material and data. Material produced by the BUFFF facility can have its ownership transferred to users able to receive material or material can be loaned to facilities not able to or willing to take ownership - significantly widening the access to fuel materials. A library of materials will also be kept in order to provide test specimens for a nuclear forensics library - supported by AWE - providing material for exercises and studies at other institutions working on nuclear forensics studies.

Publications

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