Case studies

Linking multidisciplinary talent across national labs

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With scientific skills and unique facilities that will underpin the UK’s clean energy transition, Britain’s world-class national laboratories are working together through AFCP. Andy Duncan, Account Manager at the National Physical Laboratory, details the joint ambition across national labs to continue innovation into 2050 and beyond.

An infographic that summarises this case study. The top part of the infographic is a blue bar that says: "National Physics Laboratory (NPL), Andy Duncan, Account Manager" on the left. There is also a location icon that says: "Teddington, UK" on the right. Underneath the blue bar, there is a green box that has the following statement from Andy in quotation marks: "AFCP supports NPL efforts towards green energy projects for the future, developing a safe and reliable energy infrastructure for the UK "

Challenge

Improving nuclear data to support efficient modelling

Generally, the nuclear energy sector has an acknowledged lack of good quality data and measurement. Presently, this lack of trusted data makes process modelling and new design very difficult and may lead to overdesign, slow delivery of projects and issues with proving regulatory compliance.

Solution

Uniting national lab leaders to develop techniques together

Through AFCP, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is working with the National Physical Laboratory (NNL) to develop rigorous measurement science techniques to better characterise and understand materials and their performance. This will lead to more cost-effective designs, better predictive models and improved safety. Trusted measurement supports new materials and system design as well as decommissioning challenges.

NPL is a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)-owned R&D and testing facility with over 800 scientists, 400 laboratories and 28 science groups organised by the science discipline. Our expertise includes nuclear metrology, gas metrology, temperature and humidity and materials characterisation. Combinations of these disciplines help support AFCP’s R&D challenges, particularly around measurement and characterisation of materials and processes.

Impact

National lab synergy to drive national clean energy

AFCP supports NPL efforts towards green energy projects for the future, developing a safe and reliable energy infrastructure for the UK. NPL working with NNL allows an effective partnership between leading UK scientists to provide an enhanced team to develop UK nuclear energy technology for future decades.

Looking ahead, NPL sees ourselves being systematically involved with NNL in measurement and characterisation challenges whilst delivering support under several funding mechanisms – with both short-term and long-term collaborative projects possible. In such projects, NPL is equipped to support R&D as well as process control, calibration and measurement procedures and decommissioning challenges. NPL can provide reference materials, experimental facilities and knowhow as well as infrastructure unique to our lab. For example, our Van der Graff neutron fluence facility testing – currently used as part of AFCP – is one of only a few facilities of its kind in the world.

As part of AFCP, NPL has an ongoing project with NNL that is a good example of collaboration that also includes Lancaster and Manchester Universities. NPL also support PhD student placements in this science area, now and in the future, via our postgraduate institute.

AFCP is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) £505m Energy Innovation Programme.